Natalya Kosmarskaya is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Eurasian Studies, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow). She has published extensively on ethnic/social identity change and formation of diasporas in the post-Soviet context, intra-ethnic conflicts after the fall of communism, community relations and ethno-cultural boundaries in a post-Soviet city and, more generally, on the adaptation of immigrant communities under different ethnic/social milieus. N. Kosmarskaya is the editor of Diasporas, a Moscow-based academic journal published since 1999.
The project goal is a comparative study of the origins of mutual estrangement taking place through the encounter of co-ethnic populations. This pattern of peoples’ interaction is usually a result of migration provoked by socio-political cataclysms. The resettlement of the Pieds-Noirs to France, Russians from the former Soviet Union to Russia, «Soviet» Germans to Germany, «Russian» Jews to Israel after 1991 and many similar movements have been marked by mutual exclusion and enmity.
An explanation of tensions due to the ethno-cultural otherness of newcomers, the identity and lifestyle «borrowed» from their previous ethnic surrounding is, in the author’s view, insufficient as it obscures the differences between the reception, by the host societies, of co-ethnics and «ordinary» labor migrants — ethnic, racial and cultural «others». Moreover, it may (re)produce popular stereotypes in relation to co-ethnic migrants.
A more complex «contextual» approach is suggested, in this case applied by the author to the study of the unwelcome reception of Russian migrants from Central Asia by rural residents of Central Russia in the 1990s. It redirects attention from newcomers to the receiving population and brings to the fore the hosts’ negativism towards «co-ethnics» — as a re-channeled social discontent, as a re-interpretation of previous social and historical experience (on the local and/or national levels), provoked by the presence of migrants.