Author:Vera Skvirskaja (University of Copenhagen )
Paper short abstract:
Post-Soviet Odessa promotes its identity as a traditionally cosmopolitan city, professing various discourses on tolerance. This paper explores the ways in which economic, marriage and interpersonal strategies among two trading minorities - the new Afghan migrants and local Gypsies - put the new spectrum of tolerance to test.
Paper long abstract:
Since the Orange revolution, official celebrations of multiethnic diversity in Ukraine have aimed at dismantling the legacy of the uniform Soviet man. In the new nation-state, the Soviet discourse of internationalism with its links to former Russian supremacy has been replaced by Western-style rhetoric of tolerance. Based on fieldwork in the port city of Odessa, famous for its cosmopolitan roots, but now experiencing emigration of its former minorities and inflows of transnational migrants, this paper explores various economic, marriage and interpersonal strategies among two trading minorities, which put the new spectrum of tolerance to test. It focuses on recent Afghan migrants and local Ukrainian Gypsies as representing different modalities of exclusion from the city's wider circles of sociality. Inspired by Sheldon Pollock's discussion of "non-compulsory" cosmopolitanism (the universal) and "avoidable" vernacularism (the national), I argue that these two trading minorities in Odessa are able to create their own forms of engagement with difference and affiliation with the wider world in ways that we can understand as "endogamous" or "selective" forms of cosmopolitanism.
Mutuality's margins: contesting cosmopolitanism in the rescaled city