Chapter 5: Post-Soviet Russia: anti-immigrant sentiment and discourses of national identity
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In post-Soviet Russia, the levels of anti-immigrant attitudes and opposition to immigration have been rising over the first two decades of the 21st century. Yet, a long list of social attributes, used by social scientists to explain levels of anti-immigrant sentiment in other contexts, shed only scant light on the same phenomenon in post-Soviet Russia. In this chapter, we suggest that anti-immigrant sentiment in Russia should be examined against emerging contradictory discourses of national belonging, in which migration has played a special role, and which were mobilized by the regime for a variety of political purposes. We highlight the contradictory nature of Russia’s ideas about nationalism, in which imperial sensitivities coexist with civic notions of nationalism and ethnonational definitions of the state. We show how social groups’ and individuals’ dispositions vis-à-vis these ideas and the processes of rebuilding national identity play a crucial role in shaping their attitudes toward immigrants and immigration.

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