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Accepted Paper:

Residence regimes and the illegalisation of migrant labour in urban Russia  
Madeleine Reeves (University of Oxford)

Paper long abstract:

Drawing on recent ethnographic fieldwork amongst un-documented and fictively-documented migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan, this paper examines the co-production of fictive "legal" residence for migrant labourers in urban Russia. In the last decade, Russia's oil-fuelled building boom has made it the world's second net recipient of migrant labour, much of it from the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. This labour is regulated by a complex and draconian system of internal residence registration (a holdover from the Soviet propiska system), such that there have emerged complex networks of "official" and "unofficial" figures providing fictive visibility to the state by issuing "authentic" temporary residence registration at an address where the migrant never in fact lives.

The paper devotes empirical attention to the production of such so called "clan fake" (chistie fal'shivye) registration documents for seasonal labourers and the networks of police officers, pensioners, migrant workers and commercial intermediaries through which these documents are produced and sold. This situated exploration is intended as a point of entry for a critique of classifications of migrant labour as either "legal" or "illegal"; "documented" or "undocumented" that still dominate in analyses of migrant labour from Central Asia. This in turn allows for a substantive engagement with the broader questions raised by the workshop abstract concerning the role of informal authorities in producing "legal" residence; the relationship between neoliberal transformations, particularly as manifest in the former Soviet space, and the (state-sanctioned) illegalisation of migration labour; and competing moral assessments of technically "illegal" residence in the nation-state.

Panel W092
Frontiers of 'legality' under neoliberalism: ethnographic explorations across shifting temporal and spatial scales
  Session 1