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Regular version of the site

Migration studies, 2020

Seminar "Migration studies" (Higher School of Economics) is designed as a platform for presentation by scholars engaged in migration studies their academic research, as well as for the discussion among experts. The seminar is focused on an interdisciplinary approach and unites specialists from different fields: economists, sociologists, geographers, historians, anthropologists who deal with this problem. The seminar is open not only for academics, but also for all those interested in the migration studies.

Seminar Organizer: Ekaterina Demintseva, e-mail: edemintseva@hse.ru



On March 24, 2020 at 16:00 (organized with the Centre for French-Russian Studies, Moscow)
Isabelle Coutant
CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research, France)
“The migration issue seen from below: ethnography of working-class neighborhoods”\

Working-class neighborhoods are generally the first location for migrants in their destination country. This is the reason why I gradually came to believe, as my research progressed, that the “refugee issue” cannot be considered without simultaneously thinking about the “working-class neighborhoods issue”. These are the districts which de facto provide a reception function. To understand relationships between different groups of inhabitants at the local level, and their potential political expression, they have to be put into perspective with working-class transformations that have been underway since the end of the last century. This should provide a more comprehensive way of thinking about the social conditions of tolerance.

This is the reading grid that I will adopt to link several surveys carried out over the past twenty years in different sectors of the Paris region, from gentrified urban neighborhoods to peripheral social housing districts and suburban areas.


On April 16, 2020
Mark Simon
“Navruz at VDNKh: immigrants from Central Asia in the cultural infrastructure of Moscow”

Studies on the impact of migration on the cultural industry of large cities occupies a prominent place in contemporary European social anthropology. Under the conditions of transnationalism, references to the ‘dominant’ (national or local) tradition are being replaced by another discourse.  A discourse of plural heritages, the exchange between which is represented by cultural brokers as a public good. In Russia, we witness a certain gap in the study of urban multicultural ‘machineries’. There are studies on leisure practices and the cultural consumption of migrants, yet the topic of public representation of cultural diversity, associated with migration, remains a sort of ‘terra incognita’ for the social sciences.

The paper presents the first results of a field study on the presence of immigrants from Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the cultural infrastructure of Moscow. The choice of these three countries of origin is justified by the fact that they have comprised one of the key ‘migration donors’ for Russia in the last two decades, though their ‘cultural heritage’ remains poorly institutionalized in the largest Russian cities. Moreover, public events in which the representatives of these countries take part – e.g. city festivals and holidays – often ignore the topic of labor migration, focusing primarily on the activity of the so-called ‘diasporas’.

The author will attempt to demonstrate various institutional forms of public representation of Central Asians at first approximation – from the vertical, built on the basis of ‘national policy’ structures – to the horizontal. The latter include grassroots activities of immigrants from Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan – amateur theater, dance and music collectives, KVN and poetry readings. We will try to trace which platforms mediate such activities; what social networks are morphed around these platforms; and how the participants understand the institutional rules of the “game” they are playing.

The main research question of this paper is as follows: how is the Soviet cultural heritage reassembled in the vertical and horizontal forms of public (self-) presentation under examination?


On May 14, 2020
Yu. Florinskaya, Ph.D. in Geography, Senior Researcher at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration
N. Mkrtchyan, Ph.D. in Geography, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Demography, Higher School of Economics
“Migration in small and medium-sized Russian cities – the main trajectories and unresolved issues”

The population of small and medium-sized cities in Russia is steadily declining as a result of migration. There are several main migration paths: 1) leaving for study after graduating from high school (and, less often, after graduating from grade 9); 2) leaving at an older age; 3) leaving at retirement age (to live with one’s children); 4) leaving for temporary work (rotation shift work). At the same time, these cities are migration destinations for newcomers from neighboring rural and even smaller urban settlements, which to some extent compensates the outflow of residents. After studying in large cities, only a small proportion of “study migrants” return home, but such instances are not negligible in number. Is this a consequence of personal failure, the falling through of their previous plans, or, perhaps, a predetermined strategy? Will the exodus of people from small towns for rotation shift work continue at a relatively high level, or will this strategy cease to be relevant in the future?



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