Accepted paper:

Citizens and Noncitizens: Forging Spaces of Reprieve and New forms Belonging in Russia

Authors:

Alexia Bloch (University of British Columbia)

Paper short abstract:

Spaces of reprieve in Russia, such as a church-run prenatal program for refugees, and activist organized schooling for noncitizen children, point to how new ideals of citizenship and belonging for citizen-activists are interwoven with instances of temporary refuge for those seeking support.

Paper long abstract:

Increasingly public discourse across Europe and North America is defined by an unspoken tension between the rights of citizens and the international human rights of noncitizens. In my ethnographic fieldwork in Russia I have found that the interaction of citizens and noncitizens is not just a point of tension. My paper examines spaces of reprieve such as a church-run prenatal program for refugees, and activist organized schooling for noncitizen children, to explore how these spaces generate possibilities for new ideals of citizenship and belonging for citizen-activists even as they create temporary refuge for those seeking out aid. These spaces of activist civil society interaction and efforts to build a place of belonging for undocumented migrants and refugees generate important points of connection both for the noncitizens, and for the volunteers seeking to forge alternative spaces of collective endeavors within contemporary Russia. My paper considers activist citizens and their engagement with refugees in three separate non-governmental spaces in Moscow in order to foreground how forms of supporting noncitizens are interwoven with distinct politics of belonging, including sometimes by religious ideals or ideals of multiculturalism.

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Helping in an era of hostility: Political agency and moral contestations in civil society movements for and by migrants