Anastasia Ryabchuk holds an MPhil in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Kyiv, co-tutelle with Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris. She is Associate Professor in Sociology at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy. Her research interests include social construction of poverty and vulnerability in postsocialist societies, and the work of international humanitarian organisations during the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine.
Period of affiliation:
2022 - 2023
When war broke out in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine in 2014, numerous charitable organizations, local and international NGOs and development aid programs began to offer immediate humanitarian relief in frontline communities. Today, eight years since the start of the war, their active engagement remains a valuable contribution to peacebuilding efforts and social assistance to the most vulnerable social categories. At the same time, pressure from donors and priorities of long-term engagement beyond short-term immediate relief, pushes the humanitarian sector to redefine their understanding of “vulnerability”. Development aid projects are gradually moving away from material assistance in the form of basic necessities, towards more long-term projects of community development, capacity-building, resilience and empowerment. My research project is situated in this context of international development actors redefining vulnerability in frontline communities of the Donbas. I want to explore, firstly, which social groups are identified as vulnerable and in greatest need of humanitarian assistance; secondly – how these understandings of vulnerability evolve over time when the war is no longer seen as an emergency but rather as an ongoing day-to-day reality in frontline communities, and finally – how changing understandings of vulnerability reflect ideological and bureaucratic shifts in the development aid sector.