Anti-Nuclear Activism and National Identity in Russia, Lithuania, and Ukraine


Book Pages: 240 Illustrations: 8 b&w photographs, 1 map Published: August 1996

Author: Jane I. Dawson

Environmental Studies, Politics > Political Science

Eco-nationalism examines the spectacular rise of the anti-nuclear power movement in the former Soviet Union during the early perestroika period, its unexpected successes in the late 1980s, and its substantial decline after 1991. Jane I. Dawson argues that anti-nuclear activism, one of the most dynamic social forces to emerge during these years, was primarily a surrogate for an ever-present nationalism and a means of demanding greater local self-determination under the Soviet system. Rather than representing strongly held environmental and anti-nuclear convictions, this activism was a political effort that reflected widely held anti-Soviet sentiments and a resentment against Moscow’s domination of the region—an effort that largely disappeared with the dissolution of the USSR.
Dawson combines a theoretical framework based on models of social movements with extensive field research to compare the ways in which nationalism, regionalism, and other political demands were incorporated into anti-nuclear movements in Russia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Armenia, Tatarstan, and Crimea. These comparative case studies form the core of the book and trace differences among the various regional movements to the distinctive national identities of groups involved. Reflecting the new opportunities for research that have become available since the late 1980s, these studies draw upon Dawson’s extended on-site observation of local movements through 1995 and her unique access to movement activists and their personal archives.
Analyzing and documenting a development with sobering and potentially devastating implications for nuclear power safety in the former USSR and beyond, Eco-nationalism’s examination of social activism in late and postcommunist societies will interest readers concerned with the politics of global environmentalism and the process of democratization in the post-Soviet world.


“As a result of the author’s thorough field research, [this] book not only represents an authoritative work on antinuclear movmements but also serves as a basic reference on the heady five years of dissent and awakening nationalism in these portions of the former Soviet Union. In this context, it brings out the extent to which glasnost opened up the Soviet Union, not just to more candid discussions, but also to dynamic political mobilization and even street demonstrations. . . .” — Philip R. Pryde, Slavic Review

Eco-nationalism is an outstanding work and long-awaited contribution to our understanding of the relationship between environmental activism and national awakening during the Gorbachev era. It is an absolute must for those who want to understand the source, causes, and dynamics of nationalism in late- and post-communist society.” — John Löwenhardt, Institute of East European Law and Russian Studies, Leiden University

“This is a superb study that combines theoretical insight with extensive, on-site research in three republics of the former Soviet Union. Unique in its systematic comparisons of social movements in the three republics, and in its exploration of the interaction among issues of environmentalism, nationalism and political participation. A “must read” for students of communist and post-communist systems.” — George W. Breslauer, University of California, Berkeley


Availability: In stock
Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jane I. Dawson is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Oregon.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing

Winner, 1997 AAASS Marshall Schulman Prize

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1837-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1831-6
Publicity material