On April 16, 2020 an on-line session held of the regular seminar "Migration studies"organized by the Higher School of Economics Institute of Social Policy
Mark Simon (MSSES, RANEPA) 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?
The "Migration studies" Seminar (Higher School of Economics) is designed as a platform for presentations of their academic research by scholars engaged in migration studies, as well as for discussion between experts. The seminar is focused on an interdisciplinary approach and brings together specialists from various fields: economists, sociologists, geographers, historians, and anthropologists dealing with relevant issues. The seminar is open for all those interested in migration studies, as well as the academic community.