An Observational Study of Ukrainian Mail Order Brides
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This thesis is a study of the representations of Ukrainian “mail order brides” over the Internet via personal profiles from a broker agency that specializes in the marriages of Ukrainian women and foreign men. In exploring the women as both objects of consumption in an international economic market and as individuals who are exhibiting their own power and control in a historically patriarchal society, I am analyzing the profiles and photographic representations of Ukrainian women through a catalog of found portraits and profile text. By creating a book of photography and text, I am recreating the very personal experience of seeing and searching through pages of women who are both exotic products to choose from and persons with whom to connect. And with the idea that these women are performing for a desired and targeted audience, the book is visual effort to embody the written portion of this thesis that explores the Ukrainian woman’s control. The examination of the profile text is directly influenced by post-Structuralist theorists who considered the context and authority of language as dependent on the context of its setting and circumstance. This is especially important because of the historical repression of Ukraine, a country that has only seen national independence and identity for twenty years after centuries of war, border conflicts and Soviet control. Queer and feminist theory is also an essential part of this thesis when examining the exhibition of gender performance, emphasized femininity and hegemonic masculinity.