Columbia's Harriman Institute: Voices from the Soviet Edge
Virtual Book Talk: Voices from the Soviet Edge: Southern Migrants in Leningrad and Moscow by Jeff Sahadeo
Tuesday, December 1, 2020 12:00pm EST
This event will be held virtually as a Zoom webinar and streamed via YouTube Live. There will be no in-person event.
Please join us for a discussion with Jeff Sahedeo, Associate Professor at the Institute of Europe, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at Carleton University, and author of Voices from the Soviet Edge: Southern Migrants in Leningrad and Moscow (Cornell University Press, 2019).
Jeff Sahadeo reveals the complex and fascinating stories of migrant populations in Leningrad and Moscow. Voices from the Soviet Edge focuses on the hundreds of thousands of Uzbeks, Tajiks, Georgians, Azerbaijanis, and others who arrived toward the end of the Soviet era, seeking opportunity at the privileged heart of the USSR. Through the extensive oral histories Sahadeo has collected, he shows how the energy of these migrants, denigrated as "Blacks" by some Russians, transformed their families' lives and created inter-republican networks, altering society and community in both the center and the periphery of life in the "two capitals."
Voices from the Soviet Edge connects Leningrad and Moscow to transnational trends of core-periphery movement and marks them as global cities. In examining Soviet concepts such as "friendship of peoples" alongside ethnic and national differences, Sahadeo shows how those ideas became racialized but could also be deployed to advance migrant aspirations. He exposes the Brezhnev era as a time of dynamism and opportunity, and Leningrad and Moscow not as isolated outposts of privilege but at the heart of any number of systems that linked the disparate regions of the USSR into a whole. In the 1980s, as the Soviet Union crumbled, migration increased. These later migrants were the forbears of contemporary Muslims from former Soviet spaces who now confront significant discrimination in European Russia. As Sahadeo demonstrates, the two cities benefited from 1980s' migration but also became communities where racism and exclusion coexisted with citizenship and Soviet identity.
Jeff Sahadeo is Associate Professor at the Institute of European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at Carleton University. He is the author of Russian Colonial Society in Tashkent, 1865–1923 and co-editor of Everyday Life in Central Asia.