Moscow: The Corner of Communism and Capitalism

“Moscow: The Corner of Communism and Capitalism” uses temporary labor migration to Moscow to examine the interplay between communism and capitalism in Moscow. Throughout the twentieth century, Moscow’s population grew by 10,000,000 people. In the postwar period, temporary labor migration turned into permanent residency primarily fueled this rapid increase. Such migrants were often ethnic Russians from the rural areas surrounding Moscow who took on the unskilled and physically demanding positions that Muscovites shunned. In the post-Soviet period, migrants from the former Soviet republics and even further afield made their way to Moscow to work these same jobs, but the lack of shared citizenship, coupled with ethnic, linguistic, and phenotypical differences made this new wave of migrants a visible “other.” This website explores the connections between Moscow’s socialist past and capitalist present as seen through the lens of temporary labor migration. The collection of essays, timeline, map, graphs, and photo galleries provide insight into changing processes, policies, and demographics related to migration across the Soviet and post-Soviet divide.

The 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 and discussing the origins of the internal passport system. 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 breakup of the Soviet Union caused birth rates and migration rates to plummet as death rates rose, but as the last graph, which shows the overall increase of Moscow’s population, illustrates, this only slowed, not stopped population growth in the capital. 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.

Emily Elliott

2017-2018 CHI Grad Fellow Cohort

PhD Candidate, Department of History