Mixed-Migrant Experiences, Ethnic Hierarchies, and Geopolitical Remittances: Focus Groups With Returnees From Russia

Theodore P. Gerber , University of Wisconsin–Madison
Jane Zavisca, University of Arizona

We examine migrant experiences in Russia, where migration has surged since the early 2000s, based on focus group with return migrants in Lviv, Ukraine, and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Participants discussed their experiences in Russia, their motives for migrating, the impact of their experiences on their views of Russia, and their intentions to return to Russia again. They reported a diverse range of views and experiences, suggesting it is risky to generalize about labor migrant experiences in Russia. However, many indicated that their appreciation for the income they earned in Russia was the most salient aspect of their migration experience, and the economic benefits outweighed an assortment of more negative aspects they recalled. Their views of Russia are more positive as a result of their migration experiences, in part due to their perceptions of where they stand in Russia’s ethnic hierarchies. Russia’s reputation benefits from migration through what we call geopolitical remittances.

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 Presented in Session 191. Return Migration