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Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4131-6162

Document Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Anthropology

Year Degree Awarded

2019

Month Degree Awarded

May

First Advisor

Julie Hemment

Subject Categories

Slavic Languages and Societies | Social and Cultural Anthropology

Abstract

This dissertation investigates the tensions between inclusion and exclusion in Russia’s migration policies against a global backdrop of rising nationalism, populism, and anti-migrant sentiments in Europe and the United States. As Russian officials have sought to limit labor migration through the introduction of quotas and a Russian language exam, they have simultaneously made it easier for some to gain citizenship through the Resettlement of Compatriots Program. On paper, the compatriots program appears to be a white, Slavic solution to Russia’s demographic crisis. However, 13 months of ethnographic research reveals that a diversity of participants qualify. I demonstrate how officials use the compatriots program to respond to the Ukrainian refugee crisis, integrate Central Asian immigrants who have already been living and working in Russia, and offer citizenship and free land to Old Believers who have “returned” from South America. In each chapter, I examine the histories and raciolinguistic locations of each group. I argue that by promoting the program as Slavic, Russian officials appeal to popular anxieties about migration while simultaneously responding to Russia’s labor crisis and the needs of immigrants already living in Russia.

My research sheds light on recent anti-migrant rhetoric as it has shifted from the far right and populist to the mainstream. I explore backlashes against Soviet values of internationalism, demonstrating how they emerge not only on the outskirts of Russian nationalism, cultivated by the European and American far right, but within everyday Russian discourses. As the fourth largest immigrant-receiving country, Russians share Europeans’ and Americans’ anxieties about cultural differences. What is unique in Russia though are the legacies of Soviet ideas of Friendship of Peoples that continue to inform especially older generations’ understandings of who are Russian compatriots and the state support to which they think compatriots should be eligible. Through ethnographic analysis, attentive to the role language and race play in debates about belonging, this dissertation contributes to the anthropologies of migration and race. As Russians grapple with the tensions between socialist values of diversity and growing nationalism, their debates offer insight into how officials, citizens, and immigrants alike respond to changing political landscapes.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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