Cornell University Press

Southern Migrants in Leningrad and Moscow

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Voices from the Soviet Edge reveals the complex and fascinating stories of migrant populations in Leningrad and Moscow. Through the extensive oral histories Sahadeo has collected, he shows how the energy of these migrants altered society and community in both the center and the periphery of life in the “two capitals.”

In this Q&A, author Jeff Sahadeo discusses what he learned through his interviews of migrant populations in Russia.

1. What’s your favorite anecdote from your research for this book?

In an archive in Kyrgyzstan, I struck up a conversation with a scholar next to me and it turned out he was an ideal subject for my interviews as he had worked for the Moscow militia as a Kyrgyz students in the 1980s. I started asking him questions and we did an interview more or less on the spot. We then started walking home together and after some minutes of pleasant, general conversation, he began to tell me entirely different stories than ones I had just heard—about prejudice and emotional suffering. It was an early indication of how both challenging and rewarding oral histories can be.

2. What do you wish you had known when you started writing your book, that you know now?

I wish I had known from the start how rich every individual’s life story is, how much a careful and thoughtful conversation can tell us about how everyday citizens interacted with the state and how the outcomes of these interactions affect policies above and life below.

3. How do you wish you could change the field of Russian and Eurasian Studies?

I wish I could integrate Russian and Eurasian Studies more into mainstream Western and European history and I hope my book takes strides in that direction.

*Featured photo by iam_os on Unsplash.


Jeff Sahadeo is Associate Professor at the Institute of European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at Carleton University. He is author of Russian Colonial Society in Tashkent, 1865–1923 and co-editor of Everyday Life in Central Asia.

See all books by this author.

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