Today, I officially launch my website, “Moscow: The Corner of Communism and Capitalism,” which uses my dissertation on temporary labor migration to Moscow to examine the interplay between communism and capitalism in Moscow. The project stemmed from both my dissertation research and my observations while living in Moscow. I was always struck by seeing the interplay of the Soviet socialist past and the Russian capitalist present in the architecture as I walked around Moscow. Moreover, I could see the logical outcomes of my dissertation topic spray painted on the concrete as advertisements for dormitory rooms and posted on fences as calls for temporary jobs that came with registration.
My website’s landing page provides an historical overview of temporary labor migration to Moscow, tracing the origins of these practices to end of the nineteenth century. In the imperial period, peasants made their way to the capital to work in factories and send cash, needed for redemption payments, back to families. The opening essay also introduces the Soviet internal passport and domicile registration systems that governed rural to urban migration from 1932 to the end of the Soviet Union. A timeline then provides information on the development of Moscow, as seen through the lens of temporary labor migration and population growth, from 1971 to 2002. The second page explains the changing places of origins of migrants and provides a map. While migrants originally arrived from the areas near Moscow, the near complete depletion of the youthful rural population meant migrants from Siberia, the other republics of the Soviet Union, and even countries beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union replaced arrived in larger numbers from the mid-1980s onward.
The next two pages use a series of graphs to explain population change. The first of these pages explains the centrality of migration to population growth by providing information on birth and death rates as well as the tempo of migration to the capital. If births provided 10,000 new residents annually, migration provided 50,000 to 70,000. The following page looks at the reception of migrants in the capital, paying particular attention to nationality and the changing role of citizenship. The last two pages are case studies – one of automobile factories, the other of the Olympics – of work places in which migrants dominated. I also explain the afterlife of these locations in the post-Soviet period.
It is my hope that my website will provoke its users to consider several important questions, such as the (dis)continuities between the Soviet and post-Soviet periods as well as the Soviet Union’s relationship to the history of postwar Europe, particularly in regards to migration. Before at last introducing my website, I must thank several people. Ethan Watrall, the director of the Cultural Heritage Informatics Program, and this year’s cohort of CHI fellows have helped me every step of the way. My advisor, Lewis Siegelbaum, has helped me conceptualize the research that I display here (and has also written extensively on the car factories that I discuss on my website). Lastly, Ramya Swayamprakash encouraged me to apply for the CHI Fellowship after sharing her positive experiences as a CHI Fellow in the 2016-2017 academic year.
Without any further ago, I give you “Moscow: The Corner of Communism and Capitalism”: https://ellio252.github.io/Moscow_Migration/.