Lauren Woodard

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Massachusetts, Amherst, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9255

Approve Date

April 8, 2016

Project Title

Woodard, Lauren, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA - To aid research on 'The Politics of Return: Resettlement, Development, and Nostalgia in Post-Soviet Russia,' supervised by Dr. Julie Hemment

Preliminary abstract: While recent scholarship on migration has highlighted how governments have sought to restrict population movement, this project examines the politics of migration from another vantage point, drawing on the anthropology of policy and development. Through Russia’s Resettlement of Compatriots Program, state officials seek to attract, rather than repel, immigrants by expanding citizenship to include those who broadly identify themselves as aligned with the country’s interests. Mobilized by Russian state discourses of homeland, ethnic Russians and Russian speakers are ‘returning’ to Russia through this program that promises financial assistance and a Russian passport. However, ‘returnees’ cannot move to anywhere in Russia but are resettled by state demographers to underdeveloped areas of the country. This dissertation places the perspectives and practices of government employees and immigrants involved in the program at the center of an ethnographic study. How do collective memories and nostalgia mobilize this project of resettlement for state actors and recent returnees? Through 13 months of fieldwork in Moscow and Novosibirsk, I will contribute to discussions about migration governance, development, and practices of nostalgia by tracing how a policy is conceptualized, implemented, and interpreted by state actors and recent returnees.