Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Performing ‘Community’: Russian Speakers in Contemporary Britain

Byford, Andy

Performing ‘Community’: Russian Speakers in Contemporary Britain Thumbnail



Lucille Cairns

Santiago Fouz-Hernández


During the early 2000s Great Britain witnessed a considerable rise in numbers of the Russian-speaking former-Soviet migrant population.1 This has been the result of the greatly increased opportunities for migration in most former Soviet states, the eastwards enlargement of the European Union, and the economically driven relaxation of immigration regulations under the UK’s Labour government between 1997 and 2008.2 Although they patently form a linguistically cohesive group, the Russian-speaking migrants discussed here are not easy to define as a group in ethnic, national or diasporic terms. They include individuals arriving from different post-Soviet countries in several successive migrant waves, in a whole range of changing personal, professional and socio-economic circumstances. Their ethnic self-identifications, national loyalties, generational experiences and expressions of mutual solidarity remain complex and flexible, as do their migrant statuses and trajectories. Conceptualizing the ‘Russianness’ of this population is far from straightforward since many of these migrants’ identifications with Russian language, culture and history point to their common upbringing and roots in the former Soviet ‘empire’ rather than to either a particular ethnicity or citizenship. Indeed, both the term rossiiane, meaning ‘citizens of the Russian Federation’, and russkie, meaning ‘ethnic Russians’, are much too narrow and specific to apply to this migrant population as a whole. The term sootechestvenniki (compatriots), deployed by the Russian government in its legislation and policy documents in reference to ‘Russians outside Russia’ as a form of diaspora, is even more problematic on account of...


Byford, A. (2014). Performing ‘Community’: Russian Speakers in Contemporary Britain. In L. Cairns, & S. Fouz-Hernández (Eds.), Rethinking 'identities' : cultural articulations of alterity and resistance in the new millennium (115-139). Peter Lang.

Online Publication Date Apr 14, 2014
Publication Date Apr 14, 2014
Deposit Date May 15, 2012
Publicly Available Date Apr 5, 2016
Publisher Peter Lang
Pages 115-139
Series Title Cultural identity studies
Book Title Rethinking 'identities' : cultural articulations of alterity and resistance in the new millennium.
ISBN 9783034308656
Publisher URL


Accepted Book Chapter (393 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is an Accepted Manuscript that has been published in Rethinking ‘Identities’: Cultural Articulations of Alterity and Resistance in the New Millennium / edited by Lucille Cairns and Santiago Fouz-Hernández in the series Cultural Identity Studies. The original work can be found at: © Peter Lang AG, 2014. All rights reserved.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations