Authoritarian Context and Outsider Position in Fieldwork on Migration in Russia
This presentation explores the impact of the Russian authoritarian environment on Western researchers conducting qualitative research on migration in the Russian Federation. We utilize experiences from fieldwork conducted in 2017 in the city of Moscow, which explored the daily lives of Central Asian migrant workers working in the shadow economy. We identify issues, which are relevant for understanding and evaluating the collected data in environments and target groups where getting access and gaining trust have specific challenges. Our experiences indicate that the effect of the authoritarian context warrants close examination as a part of the research design. The impact of the environment was critically related to the ethical side of fieldwork and subsequent reporting, the effect of which on the studied individuals and communities should be carefully assessed. Practical and psychological pressures during the fieldwork challenge objectivity. Yet, in fieldwork, foreign researchers´ intersectional and hybrid roles can transcend the outsider-insider dichotomy typically underlined in connection to authoritarian societies and closed communities. To strengthen trust in their work, and to increase the relevance of their work for theory development, researchers should evaluate data from environments such as Russia realistically, and report their data collection process openly.
This paper is co-authored with Anna-Liisa Heusala.
Jewish Movement for Emigration and the Petitioning Practices in the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic in the 1970s
This paper considers the history Jewish movement for emigration in the 1970s zooming into the local context of Minsk, the capital of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR). The success of emigration from the USSR depended on multiple factors, and, as a rule, it had been a lengthy and difficult process, requiring initiative and active participation of the applicant. This paper focuses on one particular aspect of the movement for emigration– communication with and the letters to the different levels of Soviet authorities and international organizations or petitioning. In the BSSR, it intensified already from 1971 and became an effective instrument for inquiries, complains, appeals and protest. I intend to look into the practices of petitioning from the perspective of Soviet periphery, asking, how these practices were adopted; with which frequency and on which occasions the petitions were issued. Additionally, I ask whether and how the place, the location of the appellants and the circumstances they found themselves defined the trajectory and the message of their appeals. And finally, how the practices of petitioning framed the life of the appellant, whether and in which way could they impact the decision of the authorities to issue exit visa or to reject the application?
The petitioning had become an important part of the political participation of the Soviet citizens, which had developed in the 1970s; and its study is instrumental for the understanding of the relationship between citizens and the Soviet state. Although the Jewish movement for emigration has been often discussed as a protest activity, this paper will be arguing that not only resistance but also interaction with authorities became an effective instrument in refuseniks struggles for emigration. Additionally, with this paper the author intends to contribute to the study of everyday practices of the Iron Curtain “perforation” and exchange during the Cold War also in peripheries."
I Broke an Onion on My Nose: Muslim Migrant Youth Negotiating Masculinities and Femininities Through Body in the Czech Republic
Aim: This paper explore the Muslim migrant youth’s negotiations of masculinities and femininities and how it impacts their bodies, making them sites of exploitation or exploration in the context of the Czech Republic.
Background: The research on “body” initially focused on white, Western categories leaving out the other “non-traditional” categories involving race, class, sexuality, among others. Further, the research focusing on young people’s bodies has traditionally sought to “problematize” them, highlighting health concerns like addiction, obesity, body image issues (Coffey and Watson, 2014: 2). This limiting perspective neglects a more expansive role of body and how it navigates the day-to-day social world.
Methods: This research employs the use of qualitative methods and was conducted over a period of one year with six Muslim migrant young adults- Syrian, Yemeni, Iranian and half-Somalian/half-Czech. The young adults aged 18-22 years have lived in the Czech Republic between 2 to 8 years. Informed by feminist and decolonial perspectives, the data collection for this research was based on semi-structured interviews and participant observations.
Findings: The study highlights how the migration processes reconfigure the manner in which Muslim youth ‘perform’ the act of being a girl/woman or a boy/man. I contend that though negotiations may not directly challenge the hegemonic/normative discourses surrounding gender, they exemplify the agency employed by the migrant youth.
Conclusion: In understanding the process of embodiment of the migrant youth, I found how young migrant men are susceptible to exploitation of their labour and how young women experience empowerment and increased levels of freedom. This research also aims to correct the imbalance in current youth studies that is largely concentrated in wealthy regions of the world namely North America, the UK and Australia, while the majority of youth actually come from developing regions like Asia and Africa (Coffey and Waston, 2014: 2).
With Time We Learn to Trust Others? Long-standing vs. Recent Ethnic Diversity and Outgroup Trust in Russia
The paper examines the relationship between ethnic diversity and outgroup trust based on the case of Russia, distinguishing between the long-standing and recent ethnic diversity. One of the consequences of migration for receiving states is the growing ethnic diversity of their populations. As a recent meta-analysis showed, ethnic diversity in the residential area is negatively related to social trust, which may be considered an important indicator of social cohesion in an ethnically diverse setting. The existing research, however, mostly focused on generalized trust and was usually embedded in geographical contexts in which the diversity is a product of relatively recent immigration. Meanwhile, Russia, as both a historically shaped multi-ethnic society and a contemporary migration magnet, seems to be a perfect setting to test the relation between the long-standing vs. recent ethnic diversity and outgroup trust. While it has already been shown that census-based ethnic diversity in Russia is not related to reduced generalized trust, the existing studies have not analyzed outgroup trust as the outcome, nor investigated the effect of immigration-based ethnic diversity on trust in Russia. This study intends to fill this research gap, by means of multilevel regression analyses based on data from the 24th round of the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey of Higher School of Economics (RLMS-HSE) combined with population census and official registration data. We contribute to the previous research that tested whether past regional experience with immigration affected people’s reactions to current diversity, by offering an original approach to empirically differentiate between two types of ethnic diversity. We define long-standing diversity as that resulting from long-term coexistence of certain ethnic groups in a region, while recent diversity as that arising from immigration in the last decades. Our results show that the effect of ethnic diversity on trust depended on whether diversity was based on long-term coexistence of certain ethnic groups or on recent immigration. We found that with higher levels of long-standing ethnic diversity in the region, outgroup trust tended to be higher. In contrast, recent ethnic diversity tended to be negatively related to outgroup trust. We argue that the presence of recent immigrants, in particular labour migrants, may be related to less social cohesion, in contrast to long-established ethnic diversity, which may have positive outcomes. Overall, our findings support the contact hypothesis, and point to time as a potentially important factor in mitigating the initially negative effects of immigration-related ethnic diversity on outgroup trust. We conclude that in the long term, ethnic diversity may have a trust-breeding potential.
This paper is co-authored with Sabina Toruńczyk-Ruiz.
The Interaction of the State and Diaspora Organizations within Adaptation and Integration of Migrants (Case of Tomsk and Irkutsk)
The rapid growth of cross-border migration resulted to the formation of the immigrant communities and their institutionalization. These processes actualized the discussions about the ""diasporization of the world"" that is understood as one of the leading trends in human development. Russian Federation is the one of the countries experiencing the migration pressure. This situation is connected with changing of the ethnic structure of migration flows. The main part of these flows consist of labor migrants from the states of post-soviet space: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. Migration processes are the key factors that shape new challenges for the implementation of national and migration policy of the state. Thus, Russia faces serious challenges of regulating the migration processes, social and cultural adaptation of migrants, and risks of inter-ethnic and inter-religious tensions. A flexible and competent approach to the formation of migration policy, building a dialogue between state authorities, civil society and other target groups (local community and migrants) will allow to solve these problems. One of the main participants of this process are non-profit Diaspora organizations (national cultural autonomies, societies, centers, etc.). Therefore, there is a necessity to study the existing mechanisms for building interaction between the state and civil society, including Diaspora organizations. How is the cooperation and coordination of state agencies and Diaspora organisations within the policy integration carried out? How effective are the resources used for this purpose? What is the role of each of these actors within ensuring the social and cultural adaptation and integration of migrants?
The activities of Diaspora organizations have studied by Russian researchers such as V. Mukomel, A. Osipov, E. Filippova, V. Dyatlov, D. Poletaev, V. Peshkova, O. Brednikova, O. Tkach, etc. Most investigations in this area focuses on the situation of Moscow, St. Petersburg and other major Russian cities. However, the situation beyond the Urals remains poorly understood. This research is based on two Siberian cities that are the industrial, scientific and educational centers - Tomsk and Irkutsk. These cities have historically been the centers of the formation of a migrant society in Siberia, where labor migrants from Central Asia and China still come. Moreover, Tomsk and Irkutsk receive a large number of educational migrants. The main methods of collecting field materials were quantitative and qualitative methods: questionnaire survey, interview, and participating observation.
The study demonstrates that the national cultural organizations operate as mediator between migrants and the state, although these organizations are not empowered to represent and protect their interests and influence the state migration policy at the Federal and regional levels. They perform both the cultural and the social functions, supporting migrants in legal, housing, social, medical and other spheres of life. At the same time, governments expect them to strictly comply with the orders, without giving them the necessary power , rights and resources. Therefore, the effective implementation of state migration policy requires development of the mechanisms for interaction between different actors involved in the adaptation and integration of migrants: Federal and local governments, employers, scientific and educational institutes, cultural and medical organizations, on the one hand, and civil society, including Diaspora organizations, on the other. The research was carried out with the financial support of the Russian Science Foundation in the framework of the project No. 18-18-00293 ""The Use and Creation of Urban Infrastructures by Migrants in Siberian Regional Centres""."
This paper is co-authored with Iraida Nam.
Data Uncertainty and Efficiency Tradeoffs in Modeling Internal Climate Migration: The Case of Azerbaijan
[Background & Problem]: In 2016, the International Organization of Migration (IOM) identified
that climate change is the cause of more frequent environmental challenges in Azerbaijan.
However, there are no formal evidence-based policies that analyze this impact and promote
solutions in the country, due to lack of relevant data. Moreover, in 2015, the United Nations
Development Program (UNDP) acknowledged that Azerbaijan’s internal migration is difficult to
precisely measure because regional statistics are incomplete and only contain information on
registered re-settlement to a permanent place of residence. Thus, the development of a
methodology to estimate internal migration, as impacted by environmental hazards (e.g. natural
hazards), is needed.
[Aim] Therefore, the goal of this study is to both mitigate the uncertainties
and tradeoffs made when there is a paucity of data and model spatial patterns of internal
migration caused by climate change. In this study I aim to answer the following question: What
can be done about the uncertainty of data quality and missing data when we use site selection
modelling of suitable locations to understand internal climate migration?
[Methodology & Data]
I use a site selection analysis approach in ArcGIS software of raster datasets to spatially identify
where it is most desirable for the Azerbaijani population to migrate internally in response to
climate changes. The weights are assigned by using the Analytical Hierarchy Process to overlay
the reclassified raster images. The selection of data is justified by incorporating the livelihood
and migration theories of Ian Scoones and Douglas Massey.
[Preliminary Findings] The final model output identifies five regions with high predicted out-migration: Quba-Khachmaz, Ganja-Qazakh, Absheron, Aran, and Yukhari-Karabakh, Kalbajar-Lachin and Lankaran. The identified sites have the greatest cropland coverage, water sources, precipitation and population density and are regions that are known from previous fieldwork and from averaging the population change, per region, between 2010-2018.
[Conclusion] The results show that the population has decreased between 2012-2018, on average, in regions where climate disasters have occurred (IOM report 2016). I argue that the site selection analysis, coupled with climate induced migration theories of Scoones sustainable livelihoods framework and of Massey’s paradigm of new economies of labor migration, is an effective way to make causal claims on how we can wrestle with the challenges of uncertainty and trade offs when climate and population data is unavailable or minimal. My presentation will provide a creative approach to modeling the paucity of data in understudied communities.
Kyrgyz Diaspora Online: Understanding New Forms of Transnationalism, Citizenship, and Political Participation
The Internet and social media have become the central means of communication and information distribution for people around the world. We have been feeling this most acutely during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true in the case of transnational migrants since their social networks stretch across various states and continents. In this study, I will investigate cyberspace as a political space, where we can observe migrant’s political activities, attitudes, and preferences, as well as patterns of their engagement in politics. Specifically, the goal of this research is to tease out the causal mechanisms of diaspora political participation and to assess, in comparative perspective, how, when and why migrant populations connect with homeland politics in cyberspace. Despite its undeniable relevance in today’s political arena, the question of digital channels of migrants’ political participation remains largely under-researched, especially concerning Central Asian migrants and diasporas. Given that Kyrgyzstan has one of the highest percentages of citizens residing abroad and is one of the most remittances-dependent economies in the world, the political, social, and economic importance of diaspora engagement with the homeland cannot be overstated. Focusing on the most recent case of contentious elections in Kyrgyzstan and using software-assisted mixed-method content analysis of social media, as well as semi-structured interviews with diaspora leaders and activists, this paper will provide an insight into how diaspora communities use cyberspace to create new forms of transnationalism, citizenship, and political participation.
How to Immigrate into History: Russian Speakers in the Finnish Border Region and the Politics of Memory in Transnational Settings
The presentation examines the positionings of Russian-speaking immigrants towards the Finnish and Russian national memories of the Second World War. The research data consists of ethnographic interviews with Russian speakers (21) living in Finnish Eastern border municipalities in the North Karelia region, as well as the author’s long-term ethnographic work. The methodological framework relied on the ideas of sensual ethnography, which claim that sensory perception and experience are primary in forming our knowledge of the world. Processes in the realm of collective memory in migration are conceptualized as producing transnational memoryscapes that combine memories of nations and locations of origin with the contemporary dwelling location.
The national and cultural memories of the Second World War in Finland and Russia are essential in producing contemporary national identities, “re-membering the nations.” Today, they are perceived by Russian speakers as somewhat antagonistic, producing feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. Nevertheless, they perceive these sovereign memories as legitimate and moral. Nationalized memories of WWII seem to have enhanced their bordering effect in contemporary Post-Crimean international and transnational situation. Still, the diversification of Finland’s population poses questions concerning the inclusivity of such memory politics and its potential to enhance the cohesion of local communities and society. Contemporary antagonistic memory politics need to be critically evaluated from the perspective of the European or transnational memory.
Diffusing Human Trafficking Policy in Eurasia
Human trafficking, an important component of forced migration, is one of the most important transnational human rights issues of the 21st century. With links to prostitution and migration, it is highly politicized with key actors who have their own political agenda, and further complicate the situation and the policy environment around human trafficking (Tyldum and Brunovskis, 2005). The region of Eurasia is so prevalent for trafficking in human beings that women from this region have been dubbed “Natashas” in the media because of their seemingly similar Slavic features and prevalence in the sex industry (Hughes, 2000). Women from the former Soviet Union fuel the sex industries around the world via push and pull migration factors but increasingly, men and children from this region are also victims of labor exploitation challenging existent migration flows. Fieldwork on the ground in Eurasia is coupled with quantitative data to challenge previous literature that argues international factors were the main facilitators of policy adoption. Instead this chapter posits that internal dynamics such as state commitment and interest groups were more important to policy adoption and implementation in Eurasia one of the biggest source regions in the world for trafficking and forced migration. This paper, the last chapter of my book Diffusing Human Trafficking Policy in Eurasia (Policy Press 2020), examines the quantitative determinants of policy adoption and implementation across all fifteen counties in Eurasia from 2003-2015 in a pooled time series. I take the cases study results and compare them to quantitative models policy adoption and policy implementation across the entire region. I construct a new and innovative Human Trafficking Policy Index which measures the scope of human trafficking policies in Eurasia and ranks it on a 15-point scale every year. I compile an original data set to analyze the determinants of policy adoption and implementation adapting variables for internal determinants and external pressure to international policy making. I operationalized different variables for human trafficking policy adoption and implementation. The findings mirror the qualitative results and reveal that internal political conditions and monetary factors inside the country such as state commitment, policy entrepreneurs, bureaucracy and state capacity determine how the countries adopted policy while policy entrepreneurs, bureaucracy, and police effectiveness influence policy implementation. The Human Trafficking Policy Index offers a way to measure the scope of human trafficking policy and the statistical models demonstrate the different internal determinants and external pressures which influence policy adoption and implementation of trafficking policies in Eurasia.
Croatia and the EU’s Migrant Integration Policy: Transfer, Implementation and Challenges to the Integration of Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Until the processes of the accession to the European Union, Croatia had neither systematic, active migration policy nor were the immigration issues of any political concern. Croatia has been traditionally an emigration country ever since the 19th century. The issues of migrants and immigration to the economically challenged and war-torn country were not especially visible in the Croatian politics and public, at least not until the passage of a 658,068 strong migrant wave in 2015-2016. Croatia’s migration policy including the asylum system is fairly recent and was developed gradually over the last 15 years. As a part of the accession requirements, Croatia adopted the EU’s legislative framework regulating the rights and protection of forced migrants (refugees and asylum seekers), as well as the general principles on the migrant integration thereby adopting the common EU’s policy action framework from 2005 (A Common Agenda for Integration: Framework for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals in the European Union). Yet, the specific details and further elaboration of the integration policy has been left to each member state with the implementation conceded to the regional and local government levels. Despite the clearly defined legislative framework, fully in line with the EU integration framework for asylum seekers (in some cases even more advanced than the requirements and practices in other EU member states, such as a two-year coverage of the asylum seeker's rental cost) and a series of rules that regulate more closely the implementation of legally guaranteed rights; Croatia’s migration policy practice has suffered for years from the lack of a wider vision and migration plans, and nearly non-existent integration policy, best described as slow and reluctant. Some of the reported problems have revolved around the implementation of the integration framework and derived from systemic issues such as: weak multisectoral integration of the policy; protracted absence of an accountable, single body with the policy enforcement powers; insufficient and challenged inter-agency cooperation; weak communication between state and non-state policy actors; missing or underdeveloped integration guidelines and programmes in the field of education; problems in access to health care; insufficient language learning opportunities and employment support.
The Siberian Migrations in Global Perspective. Constructing the Transnationalism and the Dual Identities of the Russian Inorodtsy during the 19th Century. (On the Example of the Buryats)
The “Great Siberian migration” is a political tool of the appropriation of the territory, often presumed as a kind of a “terra nullius” for the “Russian mission” of populating and cultivating this enormous territory. During Russian history one can distinguish two types of migration in Siberia: the penal colony and the authorized from above resettlement of the ethnic Russians to those remote Asian territories to provide lands for the peasants after the abolition of the serfdom. I am interested in this second type, and I am approaching this phenomenon not from the economic, but rather sociological perspective. I am interested in the Great Siberian migration as in a tool of structuring of the societal space of the modernizing Russian empire (after the Great reforms), but also the migration as a social “corridor of mobility” for the indigenous people inside the Russian Empire: the so-called “educated indigenous” while adopting their new Russian identity, travel to the European Russia (for the education and eventually for a temporal research work) and then they were inevitably coming back in Siberia demonstrating the lack of the social structures capable of integrating them in the metropole’s society.
The Great Siberian migration is not a unilateral trajectory, but it mostly the phenomena of the double/merged identities (Russian & autochthonic) which created, in a long perspective, a permanent bidirectional “migration” from the European space to the Asian one, and vice-versa (which defines its “global” character). Those Siberian migrations (in plural) are tightly connected to the problem of ethnic and social “Other” in the Russian Empire. I would like to analyse those “bilateral migrations” within the theoretical framework of transnationalism and translocation, by reading the documents written by the Buryats in the late 19th century.