Migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa in Moscow: social distinctions and life strategies

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Vice-Director for Research, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences; Director, International Center of Anthropology, National Research University Higher School of Economics; Professor, Center of Social Anthropology and Faculty of Histor
Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
International Center of Anthropology, National Research University Higher School of Economics
Center of Social Anthropology and Faculty of History, Political Science and Law, Russian State Unive
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameVostok. Afro-Aziatskie obshchestva: istoriia i sovremennost
EditionIssue 6

The changes since the breakup of the USSR had a significant impact on the social composition of African migrants in Moscow, as well as on their life strategies. In this article, we distinguish between two social groups of African migrants: “affluent” and “surviving”. Almost all affluent migrants are those who once came to study at Soviet universities. They have been living in Russia for at least twenty years, obtained Russian citizenship (mainly through marriage), speak Russian fluently, are very familiar with the Russian lifestyle, enjoy support from Russian family members and are respected in their home countries; they have native Russians as close friends, are happy to see their children being well integrated into Moscow city life, and are always welcome in their motherlands’ embassies in Moscow. The surviving Africans are mainly recent economic migrants and refugees, whose arrival became possible only in the post-Soviet era. For most of them, matters are complicated: they face the fact that their educational background and Russian language skills are considered insufficient, they have a poor knowledge of Russian lifestyle, and they also suffer from differences in climate; few, if any, have Russian friends, and their financial means are very limited, with little hope for any kind of support by the home country’s official representatives. The Africans from the two social groups usually use radically different life strategies to embroider themselves into the fabric of Russian society: while the affluent opt for maximum inclusion into the mainstream socio-cultural milieu, the survivors rely on cooperation amongst each other. While one group seeks integration into Russian society, the other limits itself to mere adaptation to life in Moscow.

KeywordsAfrican migrants, Moscow, community, diaspora, social distinctions, life strategies, sociocultural integration, socio-cultural adaptation
Publication date27.12.2018
Cite   Download pdf To download PDF you should sign in
Размещенный ниже текст является ознакомительной версией и может не соответствовать печатной

views: 989

Readers community rating: votes 0

1. Bondarenko D.M., Googueva E.A., Serov S.N., Shakhbazyan E.V. Adaptation of Africans in Moscow: Distinctive Features and Problems. Aziia i Afrika segodnia. 2009. Issue 1. Pp. 43–47 (in Russian).

2. Golubev V.K., Gorchakov G.E., Myshelov V.P., Khomyakov A.M. Lessons of the Past from Contemporary Perspective. Vysshee obrazovanie v Rossii. 1994. Issue 4. Pp. 85–95 (in Russian).

3. Googueva E.A. Africans in Moscow: Some Problems of Sociocultural Adaptation. Africa: History, Economics, Politics, Culture. Yaroslavl: Yaroslavl State University Press, 2007. Pp. 42–48 (in Russian).

4. Gribanova V. V., Zherlitsyna N.A. Africans in Russian Universities: Specific Features of Socio-cultural Interaction. Russia and Africa. Problems of National and State Identity. Moscow: Institute for African Studies Press, 2012. Pp. 63–79 (in Russian).

5. Zherlitsyna N.A. Socio-cultural Adaptation of the African Students in the System of Higher Education of the RF (Based on a Survey of African Students from a Number of Russian Universities). Africans in Russia: Education, Marriage, Fate. Moscow: Institute for African Studies Press, 2009. Pp. 75–85 (in Russian).

6. Katsakioris, C. African Students in the USSR. Studies and Politics in the Time of Decolonization, the 1960s. Social History. Yearbook, 2008. Saint Petersburg: Aleteia, 2009. Pp. 209–228 (in Russian).

7. Mazov S.V. “To Raise ‘People with Progressive Views, Sincere Friends of the Soviet Union.’ State Policy with Regard to Studying in the USSR Africans, First Half of the 1960s”. Pax Africana: The Continent and Diaspora in Search for Themselves. Moscow: State University – Higher School of Economics Publishing House, 2009. Pp. 331–374 (in Russian).

8. Sheregi F.E., Dmitriev N.M., Arefyev A.L. Russian Universities Scientific and Pedagogical Potential and Export of Educational Services (A Sociological Analysis). Moscow: Center of Social Forecasting, 2002 (in Russian).

9. Anderson A.B. The Complexity of Ethnic Identities: A Postmodern Reevaluation. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research. 2001. Vol. 1. № 3. Pp. 209–223.

10. Boltovskaja S. Bildungsmigranten aus dem subsaharischen Afrika in Moskau und St. Petersburg: Selbst- und Fremdbilder. Herbolzheim: Centaurus Verlag & Media UG, 2014.

11. Bondarenko D.M., Demintseva E.B., Usacheva V.V., Zelenova D.A. African Entrepreneurs in Moscow: How They Did It Their Way. Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development. 2014. Vol. 43. № 1–3. Pp. 205–254.

12. Gdaniec C. “Ordinary Young Hooligans” or Moscow Geographies of Fear: Spatial Practices in and around the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia. Hierarchy and Power in the History of Civilizations. Cultural Dimensions. Moscow: KRASAND, 2009. Pp. 3–15.

13. http://african-house.com/ru/ob-organizatsii (accessed: 21.08.2018).

14. http://mpcrussia.org/task-force-against-racism/ (accessed: 26.08. 2018).

15. Kret A.J. “We Unite with Knowledge”: The Peoples’ Friendship University and Soviet Education for the Third World. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 2013. Vol. 33. № 2. Pp. 239–256.

16. Naujoks D. Diasporic Identities: Reflections on Transnational Belonging. Diasporic Studies. 2010. Vol. 3. № 1. Pp. 1–21.

17. Shakhbazyan E.V. Africans in Moscow: “Foreign Churches” as a Factor of Socio-cultural Adaptation or Non-Adaptation. Mobility, Transnationalism and Contemporary African Societies. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010. Pp. 44–56.

18. UNESCO Statistical Yearbook. P.: UNESCO, 1990.

19. Vertovec S. The Hindu Diaspora: Comparative Patterns. L.: Routledge, 2000.

Система Orphus