Accepted paper:

The socio-cognitive infrastructure of post-soviet mathematicians' and theoretical physicists' transnational migration.


Tatiana Medvedeva (University Paris Diderot)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyses how informal social infrastructures based on not merely academic kinship but scientific "schools" and "traditions" formed by (post)Soviet researchers in maths and physics determine international mobility as a part of individual and collective strategies.

Paper long abstract:

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, several waves of emigration from the East Block come to mark the international research scene. On one hand, crises and rapid deterioration of the infrastructure were pushing scientists to chose between their career and their home country, and on another, some areas of studies were flourishing in the East making specialists highly demanded in the global research market. Post-soviet mathematicians and theoretical physicists fall under such a category. Great research has been done on national-, "ethnic"-, language- and peer-based networks and mechanisms guiding high-skilled circulation across borders and socio-professional practices linking sending and receiving regions. As revealed by multi-sited enthnographic fieldwork, there are yet another categories that organise researchers' migration and trans-national networking in the case of post-soviet math-physicists. Working under totalitarian control and serious restrictions (including discriminations based on ethnicity), by many means isolated from the western mainstream science, Soviet math-physicists formed a parallel, somewhat a-conformist community with its specific deontology, ethos, praxis, mode of sociability and exclusive competence. This socio-cognitive infrastructure goes transnational with the first emigration waves of the 1980s-1990s when indigenous categories of "Russian scientific tradition" and "scientific schools" appear as opposed to "American" or "Western" deontology and collaboration practices. These categories of affinity craft socio-professional networks and continue to aliment the international migration of young scholars of the following waves as it arranges both those who seek to reestablish habitual socio-cognitive environment overseas and those who struggle with brutal transformations of the S&T institutions in Russia.

panel P085
Engineering mobilities: exploring the infrastructures mediating transnational highly-skilled migration [ANTHROMOB] [Traditional panel]