Accepted Paper:

'Ethnic' Cafes as a Part of Migrants' Infrastructure and a New Site of Moscow Urban Space  


Vera Peshkova (Institute of Sociology)

Paper short abstract:

The growth of the migration flows to Russia and stabilization of migrants' transnational networks leads to the development of migrants' infrastructure, including 'ethnic' cafes. This paper addresses the issue of 'ethnic' cafes as spaces of belonging and new sites in the Moscow urban space.

Paper long abstract:

For the last two decades Russia has become one of the important centers for international migration. The prossesses of incorporation of these large-scale flows of migrants into the Russian society lead to the changes on various levels, creating territories of distinction in the megalopolises of the receiving state. Until recently research projects in the field of migration in the CIS space have been devoted more to the questions of work rather than to the questions of entertainment. The neglect of the sphere of migrants' entertainment might be caused, among other factors, by the minor character of this sphere until recently. However, by now the preliminary list of 'Kyrgyz' cafes in Moscow contains 40 places; not to mention cafes oriented towards other 'ethnic groups'.

In this paper, we will try to contribute to this neglected topic and look at the questions of whether these cafes can serve as a basis for 'communities' in Russian cities on example of Moscow. What role do cafes play in everyday life and communication of migrants? What social practices arise around cafes? In what way do cafes take part in the formation of migrant' infrastructure? What is of interest here is whether cafes can be agents of incorporation, assisting in the adaptation to the social space of megalopolis; next, whether this incorporation means enforcement of ethnic boundaries, in which gender comes into play.

The presentation is based on the fieldwork being conducted from May 2012 onwards, during which different cafes which are popular among migrants from Central Asia, are visited.

Panel MMM31
The causes and diversity of migration processes (IUAES Commission on Migration and Diaspora)