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Regular version of the site

Migration studies

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 December 2, 2019 a session of the regular seminar "Migration studies" organized by the Higher School of Economics Institute of Social Policy: Dagestani communities in the Khanty-Mansi and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrugs: formal and informal interactions with the receiving and sending societies, Ekaterina Kapustina (European University at St. Petersburg, Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography RAS (Kunstkamera)) was held. 

The presentation is devoted to internal Russian migration from the Republic of Dagestan to the cities of the Khanty-Mansiysk and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrugs. In recent decades, it is the “northern” direction of labor migration from Dagestan that has become one of the priorities, exerting a great influence on the life of the Dagestani regions involved in it. Ekaterina focuses on the specifics of the interaction of the most typical migrant social institution, a community organization (diaspora), with the authorities of the receiving and sending regions. In particular, the specificity of community relations with the city authorities of the Khanty-Mansi and the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrugs, with the republican Dagestan authorities represented by the Ministry of National Policy and Religious Affairs, as well as with the religious institution of the Spiritual Board of Dagestan, is of interest. At the same time, a spectrum of interactions between the diaspora and the sending community on an informal basis will be presented. In the framework of the presentation, it is proposed to talk about the specific role of community as an institution, its tasks, resources and their limitations, as well as the degree of reality of the institution in relation to the phenomenon of “northern” migration from Dagestan.

The preseantation was based on the materials of the field work of Ekaterina Kapustina in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug and the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, as well as in the Republic of Dagestan (2015 and 2018-2019) under the project “Between the Community and the State” of the Basic Research Program of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences “Social and Humanitarian Aspects of Sustainable Development and Strategic Breakthrough of Russia”, subprogram “Culturally complex societies: understanding and management”.

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.


On November 14, 2019 a session of the regular seminar "Migration studies" organized by the Higher School of Economics Institute of Social Policy: The 2015 Refugee Crisis: Four Years after, where are We at?, Tawat Mahama (Higher School of Economics, Moscow) was held. 

In the summer of 2015, more than one million refugees, mostly Syrians, arrived in Europe after a trek from the Middle East, spawning one of the largest migration crises since the Second World War. While these refugees drew the ire of some governments, others were more welcoming. But all were faced with the difficulty of re-settling such a large number of people among a public increasingly critical. Four years later, where are we at? What have we learned?  This talk will take stock of the situation by analyzing it at three levels: international, regional and country level through some case studies.

The seminar was held in English




On October 24-26, 2019 an international workshop Home, mobility and translocality: Muslim identities between the post-Soviet space, Europe and Turkey was held.

The workshop was organized by the Institute for Social Policy and School of Sociology, HSE University, Moscow With support from the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Russia, Department of Labour, Social Affairs and Healthcare of the German Embassy in Moscow, and the French-Russian Research Center for Social Sciences in Moscow 24-25 October 2019 and Garage Museum.

The workshop aims to bring together post-Soviet, European and Turkish Muslim experiences of home, mobility and translocality to explore commonalities and differences between these regions through the lens of space and belonging. By drawing comparisons, the workshop also seeks to interrogate current theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of Muslim identities.

Information on the link



On April 24, 2019 a session of the regular seminar "Migration studies"organized by the Higher School of Economics Institute of Social Policy: Legal culture of the mosque visitors in Moscow and Yaroslavl region, Denis Shedov (Faculty of Law, Higher School of Economics) was held.

The seminar discussed the results of a research of the legal culture of mosque visitors in Moscow and the Yaroslavl region. The author focused on such subjects as the participation of a mosque in the organization of legal assistance to parishioners, the dissemination of information on official law, mediation practices in the framework of law mobilization (bringing the norms of official law into action). Also the subject of discussion was the victimization (acceptance of the role of the victim) of the mosque’s parishioners in cases of encounters with fraudsters when trying to independently organize the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) and some other issues that were relevant in the context of everyday life of the mosque’s parishioners in Russia 

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.



On March 14, 2019 a session of the regular seminar "Migration studies" organized by the Higher School of Economics Institute of Social Policy: Russian communities in Three Rivers (China): between political and ethnic mismatch Ivan Peshkov (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland) was held.

Three Rivers was the Russian name for the delta of the three tributaries of the Argun (Derbul, Haul and Genhe), which was the site of a comprehensive agrarian colonization by people from the former Russian Empire. The phenomenon of the Russian Three Rivers, the frontier community of Russian old-timers in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China, had given rise to complex patterns of the perception of these communities in present Russian culture. Today, the Three Rivers turned, on the one hand, into the territory of production of samples of “real Russian culture”, on the other - into a symbol of alarm over the expansion of China.

The seminar was devoted to the triangle of the main categories (former enemies / real Russian peasants / Orthodox mestizos who have lost contact with Russian culture) that largely determine the ways of perception of the Russian communities in China in modern Russia. On the basis of field studies conducted from 2009 to 2016 in Inner Mongolia (Chinese community of Russians), the Chita region (repatriates from the Three Rivers) and San Francisco (the Russians from Three Rivers), the relationship of external perceptions with local practices of reproducing Russian life models in cross-border areas of China will be analyzed. In addition, the following issues will be addressed: how can the memory and experience of Russian communities be aligned with the interest of Russian society in the history of “Russian Manchuria”; how do Chinese communities in China integrate into the open border model; how is the perception of Russian communities in China related to the alarming image of Chinese migration in Siberia and the Far East?



On January 31, 2019 was held a session of the regular seminar "Migration studies" organized by the Higher School of Economics the Institute of Social Policy. Ekaterina Demintseva(Higher School of Economics Institute of Social Policy), Daniel Kashnitsky (Higher School of Economics Institute of Social Policy), Dmitriy Oparin (MSU, Higher School of Economics Institute of Social Policy) presented their recent research“Emigration of highly qualified professionals from Russia in the 2010s:why are they leaving Russia today?”

The problem of emigration of qualified and highly qualified specialists, the so-called brain drain, became relevant for Russia in the post-Soviet years. Despite the fact that this process has a long post-Soviet history (about 25 years), the reasons for emigration are changing. In the 2010s, we can talk about a new wave of emigration from Russia. Emigration in recent years has become diverse. Young researchers, businessmen, journalists, human rights activists are leaving the country.

The goal of the project, that will be presented at the seminar, was to understand the reasons for the departure of specialists from Russia in recent years (from 2010 to 2017), their career development and life trajectories abroad, whether they are considering future opportunities for returning to their homeland. We also aimed to understand why professionals who worked or studied abroad are returning to Russia. One of the main objectives of the study was to classify the diversity of the causes and forms of transnational migration of highly qualified Russian specialists. More than 100 in-depth semi-structured interviews with Russian emigrants from various professional fields were conducted - academics, creative professionals, journalists, entrepreneurs, as well as interviews with those who in recent years returned to Russia.

Discussant: Youlia Florinskaya (RANEPA)



On November 27, 2018 was held a session of the regular seminar "Migration studies" together with School+ organized by the Higher School of Economics Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs and the Institute of Social Policy. Thom Loyd, Georgetown University, presented his recent research "From Local Connections to Global Networks: African students in the Soviet Union, Europe, and the World, 1960-1976". 

In this paper, I will focus on the movement of African students to the Soviet Union in a global context. Using documents published by the Tanzanian government yearly between 1960 and 1970, I map the place of the Soviet Union within the global movement of Tanzanian students; this focus helps us understand not just on the growth of the African presence within Soviet universities, but how these numbers compare worldwide. Using records in Russia and Ukraine, I will then look at the movement of Africans between the Eastern bloc and the West, and within the Soviet Union itself. Freedom of movement distinguished visiting students from Soviet citizens, and understanding the African experience illuminates the ways in which the African presence in Europe contributed to overcoming the Cold War division between East and West.



On October 9, 2018 was held a session of the regular seminar "Migration studies" together with the “International Seminar Series in Sociology” organized by the Higher School of Economics School of Sociology and the Institute of Social Policy. Mikkel Rytter, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology (Aarhus University, Denmark) presented her recent research “The Power of Love: Visibility and Mobility among Sufi Muslims at the Margins of the Danish Welfare State”.      

This paper explores contested notions of visibility among the followers of the Danish branch of the global Sufi tariqa called Naqshbandi Mujaddidi Saifi. On one hand being visible (in acts and physical appearance) in specific ways, is a necessary element in the spiritual progression and transformation of the devoted Sufi murids. On the other hand, the visible Muslim (wearing niqab or growing a beard) has in recent years been the target of political contestation and intervention. Islam and Muslims are in many respects cast as the usual suspects, referred to the margins of the secular Danish welfare state and the social imaginary of the nation. Despite these developments, the Saifis have their own agenda, a revolutionary project where they strive to transform themselves and their surroundings by the power of divine love. This paper discusses the connection between contested visibility and emic notions of spatial and spiritual mobility among the Saifiyya tariqa in Denmark.  


On September 5, 2018 was held a session of the regular seminar "Migration studies"organized by the Higher School of Economics Institute of Social Policy. Bhavna Dave (Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS, University of London) presented her recent research "Securitization and Neoliberal Logic in Russia’s Labour Migration Governance".

The tightening of control over migration by the Ministry of Interior (MVD), together with the dissolution of the FMS reflects a shift towards a restrictive, securitization-oriented migration regulation with increased ethnoracial profiling of migrants for documentation checks, fines and deportations. At the same time, the takeover of migrants’ documentation and regulatory functions by the city administration (in Moscow, St Petersburg and several other cities) – executed by the Multifunction Migration Centres - has made it easier for migrants from visa-free states to obtain labour patent, residency and settlement. The above processes reveal the emergence of two different though parallel governmentalities in the migration regulation domain: one driven by the logic of securitization and control, and the other defined by the neoliberal logic of creating a ‘service-oriented’ regulatory framework for migration for enhancing profit. The paper enquires into the nature of and the relationship between these two seemingly divergent modes of governmentality. My aim is to develop a framework for understanding the apparent absence of rationality, logic or strategy in Russia’s migration policy and the endemic corruption in the migration regulation sphere.


 On June 6, 2018, Olga Vendina (Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences), and Emil Pain (Higher School of Economics and Institute of sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences) presented their book “Multiethnic City: the Challenges and Prospects of Cultural Diversity Management in Metapolicies.”

This book was written on the basis of the survey carried out in Perm, Ufa and Rostov-on-Don in 2016-2017. Assuming that an urban society is a diverse and complex society, the authors analyzed the group’s strategies of mutual accommodation affected not only by people’s values and attitudes but also by exogenous factors such as migration, civic culture persistence, national-state building and geopolitical situation, and every-day life pragmatics. Particular attention was payed to unformal institutions understood as integrity of the norms, rules and practices which organized people behavior and were specific for each city.

The different aspects of the urban diversity management problem were touched upon in the presentation. E. Pain focused on the correlation between citizenship and urbanity, nation buildings and civic urban culture. He concluded that the challenge of growing diversity demonstrated the urgency to review the actual Russian National Policy, which had to be updated and complimented by the cultural diversity management politics. O. Vendina referred to the key findings of the research relating to co-existence of ethnic and social groups in the cities.



 On May 21, 2018, the regular “Migration studies” seminar organized by the Institute of Social Policy (Higher School of Economics) and the Center for Franco-Russian Studies hosted Bartolomeo Conti, EHESS, Paris, with a presentation on “Genesis, functioning, and dismantling of a French jihadist group.” 

Through the case study of a particular jihadist group - the so-called Cannes-Torcy network - this seminar addressed the reasons and complex mechanisms related to why and how young French people, who were quite “banal”, became radicalized. It also addressed what factors interacted in this process and how these interactions were articulated as part of the young people's trajectories to radicalization. The case study enabled us to address critical issues such as the relationship between different profiles, interactions between leaders and followers, and the intersections between psychological, political, social and religious dimensions of ideological violence. But this group also told us a lot about the Islam of these young people too, including the relationship they had with the tradition of Islam associated with earlier generations, how they diverged from the Islam of their forefathers to slip into or simply to flirt with jihadist violence - sometimes for a brief period of their life, and sometimes for long enough to die. 




On April 24, 2018 Ekaterina Ermakova, Institute of African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, gave a talk on "Disciplinary practices and boundaries of the public in Cairo through the eyes of a migrant" at the regular "Migration studies" seminar organized by the Institute of Social Policy at the Higher School of Economics.

The outburst of conflicts in the Middle East intensified migration processes in the region, while the issues of migrants' adaptation in these countries were not practically articulated, remaining secondary to the problems of the refugee crisis in Europe. Cairo is a multi-million city with a high population density. It represents a unique example of an urban environment that provides for a relatively effective integration of migrants in conditions of minimal state intervention. This phenomenon was based on traditional mechanisms that gave the local population a significant share of independence in establishing and maintaining the boundaries of private-public. In Ermakova’s opinion, the success of migrant adaptation in the new environment depended on these mechanisms.

The presentation contained the results of a research based on a series of interviews with Egyptian re-emigrants from the oil-producing countries of the Middle East (Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait) and migrants from the CIS and Europe from 2009 to 2015.



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