The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the challenges of bringing postcolonial, racism and migration research into a meaningful dialogue. Based on the research examining migration from Central Asia into Russia, the paper analyses migration policy and the everyday experiences of migrants.
The paper is based on mixed methodologies, including narrative, semi-structured and in-depth interviews with migrants from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in Russian cities and those who returned to their country of origin (over 300 people), interviews with representatives of NGOs, state officials and journalists in 2013–2016 and an analysis of the legislation and mass-media regarding migration from Central Asia.
The paper demonstrates that experiencing racism is a part of everyday life for migrants from Central Asia living in Russia. Whether this is in interactions with the state, fear of persecution on the street by the police or in the workplace, it is a constant factor. It argues that the political and everyday xenophobia and racism demonstrates deeply rooted imperial views in Russia’s inner politics and shapes attitudes toward migrants.
The paper contributes to broader debates on the linkages between migration and racism in Europe, in particularly questioning the positionality of migrants from “not-European” countries.
Mbembe’s approach to “let die” is pertinent in understanding postcolonial migration. Racism continually plays a role in “normalization” of abuse toward migrants and restrictive migration policy. Blaming “the migrant” for acting informally, draining healthcare resources and for posing a security risk provides a much-needed scapegoat for the state.
The authors would like to thank the insightful comments of the anonymous reviewers as well of those of the journal editor. The research was supported by the Open Society Foundations through a grant for the project Improving the everyday lives of Central Asian migrants in Moscow and Kazan in the context of Russia’s Migration 2025 Concept: from legislation to practice (OR2013-07263).
Kuznetsova, I. and Round, J. (2019), "Postcolonial migrations in Russia: the racism, informality and discrimination nexus", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 39 No. 1/2, pp. 52-67. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-08-2018-0131Download as .RIS
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