Mutations of a Modern Myth: How Changing Discourses of Migration, Patriotism, and Personhood Shape Migration Narratives of Foreign-Language Students from Pskov, 1991–2015

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Eline Helmer


Migration, Patriotism, Postsocialist Personhood, Escape Narrative


Based on ethnographic fieldwork among Russian foreign-language students, this article addresses questions of migration, patriotism, and personhood in contemporary Pskov. In this postsocialist city, neoliberal discourse is seen as socially legitimate, and pressures of “marketing oneself” are very real to current students. However, besides viewing mobility as an ”asset” of the “winners” of transition, it is simultaneously associated with the “escape narrative,” ascribed to the students of the 1990s. This logic, reflecting currents of nationalist discourse in Russian society at large, classifies migration to the West as a characteristic of the ”losers” of transition and turns Russian emigrants intothe “new others.” Instead of encouraging to improve their CVs through migration, the“escape narrative” dissuades current students from expressing any intention to migrate at all. In English, extended summary in Russian.
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