Migrant Communities in Moscow

Timeframe: January 2013 – July 2013

One of the features of Moscow as a space of migrants’ integration is the absence of “ethnic neighborhoods” in European or North American sense. In each of administrative regions of Moscow there are probably less than 10% of permanent residents with ethnic migrant background. However migrant communities understood as groups of migrants characterized by stable intimate social ties within them do exist in Moscow. One of typical localities where such communities originate and sustain themselves are “ethnic cafés” which are cafés where ethnic migrants form majority among both staff and guests of a place. The research project was focused on ethnic migrant communities, which appear in such cafes. Its goals were to classify such communities, to find out how they appeared and how they are sustained as well as to study their role in the process of integration of their participants. The methods used were qualitative and included both rapid sociological assessment and in-depth field anthropology. The overall number of cafes studied reached the number of 100. The research showed that there are four types of communities that could be found in “ethnic” cafes: (1) homeland rooted communities which represent a certain locality in a sending country, (2) Islamic communities which unite Muslims from different countries and appear as a result of common prayer in a mosque, (3) corporate communities, which put together migrants from different workplaces of a certain locality in the receiving society or appear at “big” workplaces (markets or shopping malls), (4) business communities, which unite migrant businessmen whose businesses may be located in different parts of a city (in Moscow a big share of such communities were formed by migrants from Azerbaijan). The in-depth descriptions of cases of each type allow to trace their origin, show their composition, point out attitudes of their participants as well as to describe how they serve the integration ends.

* The project has been completed in RANEPA with the financial support of the government of the Russian Federation.


n English:

  1. Varshaver, E., Rocheva A. (2018). Localized Migrant Communities in the Absence of Ethnic Neighbourhoods: A Glimpse into Moscow’s Ethnic Cafés. Urbanities - Journal of Urban Ethnography8(2), 42-58. [in English]
  2. Varshaver, E., Rocheva, A. (2014). Migrant Communities in Moscow: Their Origins, Functionality, and Maintenance Mechanisms. Preprint. [in English]

In Russian:

  1. Varshaver, E., Rocheva, A. (2014). Café Communities as an Environment for The Ethnic Integration of Migrants in Moscow. The Monitoring of Public Opinion: Economic and Social Changes Journal, 3(121), 104-114. [in Russian]
  2. Varshaver, E., Rocheva, A. (2014). Migrant Communities in Moscow: Their Origins, Functionality, and Maintenance Mechanisms. New Literary Observer3(127). [in Russian]