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Accepted Paper:

Host-region: diasporic images of socialism in Newfoundland  
Mariya Lesiv (Memorial University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will explore images of the former Socialist Bloc produced by immigrants to Newfoundland, Canada, whose unique cultural setting stimulates newcomers to expand the notion of "our people" beyond a single ethnicity or country of origin and build identities informed by their shared past.

Paper long abstract:

Images of the former Socialist Bloc also thrive in immigrant settings, serving as vehicles for identity building and engagement with a new place. This paper will focus on post-Socialist immigrants in the Canadian province of Newfoundland.

Although Newfoundland is perceived as culturally homogeneous, with a predominantly English and Irish population, the province has recently experienced increased immigration, including from the post-Socialist Bloc. Newfoundland's unique cultural setting and small immigrant population stimulate newcomers to expand the notion of "our people" beyond a single ethnicity or country of origin. Their common socialist past informs identity-building processes. Examples include an Orthodox Christian Mission (uniting immigrants from Orthodox countries, including Romania, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine); a local restaurant (where distinctions in cuisine and traditions of various nations of the former Yugoslavia form a marketing strategy); and an annual New Year's celebration (that draws Russian-speakers from many former USSR republics).

Focusing on personal experience narratives and expressive culture, I will discuss how immigrants' common socialist experiences shape individual and community identities and how their home countries' sociopolitical dynamics influence these identities in a small place.

Diaspora studies often address the interplay between homeland and hostland in the formation of diaspora identities, concentrating predominantly on major immigration centres, where large immigrant populations unify based on ethnicity and/or countries of origin. Scholars rarely consider areas that attract fewer immigrants and, in turn, result in more complex diaspora dynamics. This case study shows the necessity of a regional perspective and proposes a new theoretical concept of host-­region.

Panel Sui02
Current images of socialism
  Session 1 Wednesday 17 April, 2019, -