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

Dmitri Bondarenko

Vostok/Oriens '2018, №6

DOI: 10.31857/S086919080002875-9

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.

Keywords: African migrants, Moscow, community, diaspora, social distinctions, life strategies, socio-cultural integration, socio-cultural adaptation

Pages: С. 162–171

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