October 8, 2013

A Social History of Internationalism: Racism and Anti-Racism in the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia

Anika Walke

My current research attends to the conjunction between nationality policies, internationalism, and migration in the Soviet context. I investigate how Soviet citizens, since the late 1950s, have responded to immigrants from abroad. I combine oral history interviews with citizens of the former Soviet Union and foreigners who have lived in post-World War II USSR with archival research on the admission and integration of foreigners into Soviet universities or at work sites in order to analyze the relationship between individual, society, and state in Soviet and post-Soviet society. The historical study of the interaction between Soviet citizens and students, workers, and political activists who came to the USSR provides the historical and cultural background for current conflicts and debates in Russia about immigration and the treatment of labor migrants and asylum seekers of non-European origin, including people from African countries or former Soviet republics. Combining a study of ideological and practical engagements with questions of racial justice within the Communist Party and how they shape practices of inclusion/ exclusion of non-Europeans in Soviet and post-Soviet society, I scrutinize the impact of internationalist ideology on individuals and institutions. I seek to detect both the potential and failure of this ideology to facilitate cohesion within multinational societies.