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Author ORCID Identifier
Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Slavic Languages and Societies | Social and Cultural Anthropology
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.
Woodard, Lauren, "The Politics of Return: Migration, Race, and Belonging in the Russian Far East" (2019). Doctoral Dissertations. 1630.
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