‘Hosts’ and ‘guests’ : racialization, (il)legality, and the migrant ‘other’ in the Sakha Republic

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2021-11-30

Authors

Yegorov-Crate, Kathryn Tuyaara

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Abstract

Growing xenophobic sentiment in Russia is often understood in the context of dramatic post-Soviet changes that precipitated a profound crisis of national identity and an increasing need to reexamine the meaning of the ‘national self’. In Russian identity discourse, ‘the migrant’ figure is increasingly a bearer of a racial, cultural, and religious identity perceived as alien and unassimilable as per a Russo-centric formulation of who belongs in the Russian in-group. This idea is continuously (re)produced through state policy and governance, media, and social interactions How do the racial logics and racialization processes that produce the migrant ‘Other’ retain globally relational dimensions and take on regional specificities in regions where local populations are themselves navigating a nebulous terrain of civic/national, ethnic, and regional identities? This thesis sets out to trace the contours of ethnoracial and civic identity in the Sakha Republic with a central focus on the production of racialized Central Asian migrant and republican-level identities in contemporary official and media discourse about migration and citizenship in the republic. Further, this thesis examines how migrant status is legally ambiguous and socioculturally meaningful within a broader political and cultural context of increased de-sovereignization at the republican level and growing anxieties about cultural and economic security. The Sakha national or civic identity-building project intentionally excludes Central Asians by making them into ‘Others’ in a social, cultural, racial, and legal sense; thus, systemic migrantophobia and the conceptual and structural dispossession of migrants creates a continuous flow of differently (un)documented, inconsistently (il)legal, and varyingly (un)assimilable migrants to the Sakha Republic

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