Comparative migration studies in the post-soviet space: challenges and prospects
Keywords:migration, comparative migration studies, ethnicity, transnationalism, comparative sociological analysis, post-Soviet societies
Comparative migration is an actively developing research area that is situated at the intersection of various disciplines and national research traditions. The demand for a comparative historical analysis of migration processes is determined by the variety of reasons: intensification of human mobility in the modern world, changes in understanding of citizenship. The collapse of the USSR generated new visions and new perspectives in migration studies. The political and ethnic borders coupled with regional variety and complex migration processes make up the post-Soviet region as one of the most challenging for comparative migration studies. Moreover, despite the availability of various traditions of migration analysis in Russia, this region remains theoretically and empirically undiscovered in terms of comparative research. The materials presented in this special issue serve to fill in this gap. The objective of an Introductory piece to the special issue of the Public Opinion Monitor (MOM) Journal that is one of the first attempts in Russian literature to present comparative migration studies dealing with the post-Soviet societies has two foci. The first is to present the idea of comparative migration studies as it is developed in the West and to make a point of proposing such a tradition to Russian social sciences. The second is to help the reader to look at and take her/his bearings in the materials and studies presented in the volume. Three particular features of the volume have to be underlined. First, in terms of theoretical and methodological foundations materials are oriented toward American rather than European tradition of comparative migration studies. Second, ethnic (national) and racial facets as they are fostered in current migration studies in the West are also debated in the volume. Third, the issue includes publications discussing transnational migration — a relatively new phenomenon under review in Russian literature. Finally, this Special Issue of the «MOM» was envisaged as an invitation to further research and as a lead-in to the detailed discussions about comparative migration studies rather than a compendium of truths and finalized answers on the subject.