Race, migration and (post)coloniality in Eastern Europe - Dr Daria Krivonos

Photo of Daria Krivonos

Event details

Friday 10 November 2023


Race, migration and (post)coloniality in Eastern Europe: the case of Russian and Ukrainian migrant workers

Speaker: Dr Daria Krivonos, University of Helsinki

Abstract: Recent scholarly work has increasingly drawn attention to the role of race and European colonialism in shaping contemporary migrations and (im)mobilities. Yet this social scientific inquiry sidelined the end of state socialism and the narratives of “return to Europe” in Eastern Europe, as well as anticolonial and anti-imperial histories of “Second-Third World internationalism.” The dissolution of state socialism shifted the axis of the global order from Eastern and Western blocs to that of the “global North” and “global South”, with Europe’s East often imagined as having no relation to questions of race, racialization and coloniality. Drawing on fieldwork among young Russian and Ukrainian migrant workers in Helsinki (2014–2016) and Warsaw (2020-2023), I discuss how they are positioned within complex and relational entanglements of racism and racialization, being both racialized as “not-fully-White” migrants and racializing and claiming whiteness against racial Others. I discuss how East European precarious whiteness and sudden recognition of some as “Europeans” is produced through anti-Black, anti-Muslim, anti-Roma and anti-refugee racisms. Rather than simply describing these racial hierarchies and the “shades of whiteness”, in my talk, I want to centre the violence of European whiteness and its reproduction among individuals and communities positioned on its edges. I argue for the importance of articulating (post)coloniality of Eastern Europe together with race to show the complicity of semi-peripheries with the global structures of coloniality, racial capitalism and border violence.

Bio: Daria Krivonos is a sociologist and a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives, University of Helsinki. Her research explores East European migrant labour at the intersection of racialisation, whiteness, and Europe’s politics of coloniality. She is a principal investigator of “Life-making and Life-breaking: A research project on social reproduction and survival in times of collapse” (2023-2026, Kone Foundation), which explores practices of social reproduction in the context of Ukrainian displacement.

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