Archive for October 12, 2008

Three Examples of Students’ “Breakthroughs” about USSR Immigration

The following are three “breakthroughs” with my Kazakh students after they looked up relevant information about immigration in the research databases at our university’s library.  I made the assignment applicable to our situation here in Kazakhstan as it related to immigration during the period of the former Soviet Union and the subsequent collapse.  


Example #1 by Z.S.

I found this article by Zardykhan (2004) very interesting and somehow relevant to the theme of Immigration. It tells about Kazakhstan starting from eighteenth century, Soviet time and modern Kazakhstan. Article puts the question of Nation Building during the USSR and its influence to post soviet Kazakhstan. It compares it to the US immigration article, the US became a “melting pot” during 1820 and 1995 due to immigrants that came and eventually created a new nation. In our case , largest immigration event happened to Kazakhstan during Stalin’s time and his policy  of not letting countries of Central Asia to get their independence. He decided to solve this issue by migrating other ethnicities in first place Slavs who were in Kazakhstan to explore “Virgin Lands”.


The article states that:  “Between 1931 and 1940, some 509,000 people migrated to Kazakhstan from other regions of the USSR through labor recruitment alone”. Before that several ethnic groups and nationalities were deported to Kazakhstan such as Germans, Koreans from the Far East and Poles.  Also, as it is stated in the article, many ‘undesirable’ people were deported to Kazakhstan, those who were accused of different crimes or wrongdoings. This way the number of Kazakhs during that time both shrinked in size and also in the percentage of whole country population. By 1970s there were 42% of Russians (majority), 32.6% Kazakhs, that’s how we see that Soviet demographic policy aimed to destroy the ethnic composition of Kazakhstan and how migration was strong and forceful. In the end, we also might consider Kazkahstan “a melting pot” but the one which was made artificially.


Zardykhan, Zharmukhamed (2004). Russians in Kazakhstan and demographic change: Imperial legacy and the Kazakh way of nation building. Asian Ethnicity, 5.


Example #2 by M.K.

The issue of migration is very important for Kazakhstan these days. Since the population of our country is not very big and we need to improve this, we need people coming into the country and not leaving it. That’s why I wanted to find out more about migration during Soviet Union times and compare it to post Soviet statistics of migration.

The author (White, 2007) was researching the main reasons of Russians leaving the country or migrating within it. But in both of these cases, people very often return to their homes, because they have failed to succeed in a new job, city, or country. Also, besides from comparing the migration in Russia and post-Soviet countries, the article tells about migration patterns in Europe and whole world.

I personally think that you definitely have to be brave in order to leave your hometown searching for better life. It takes a lot of courage to leave all the places, things and people that you have known for many-many years and move to another city, or even country. Because who knows, maybe you won’t find your place there, and how hard it is to come back realizing that your dream has failed. But on the other hand, if you succeed and stay at the place you moved to, you feel so happy about yourself and proud of all the work you have done while achieving your goal.

So, to sum up I want to say that overall, it’s probably worth risking – to move and try to change your life, because if you try your best and work hard, you should succeed. But even if not, maybe this is not where you are supposed to be. You should never give up and keep trying.

White, A. (2007). Internal migration trends in Soviet and post-Soviet European Russia. Europe-Asia Studies, 59(6), 887-911.

Example #3 by VK

The main idea of the article by White (2007) is to compare migration in the Russia during Soviet and post-Soviet periods. Author tries to find out the reason why people migrated and what period was the peak of migration.

 Actually, migration in Soviet Union was ignored and old-fashioned migration from villages to cities was quite normal. I have heard a lot about migration after the Soviet Union collapsed. A huge amount of people were returning home or migrating in order to find the best place to live. The author writes: “…some types of Soviet migrant still have their contemporary counterparts—middle-aged professional people moving from provincial towns and cities in search of more rewarding jobs, or young people moving to the city from villages and small towns for education or staying on there after graduation or military service.” But after being disappointed they returned back or migrated somewhere else. There is even one proverb: “It is always good in the place where there are no us”. Even my grand grandparents migrated from one place to another in order to find something better.

According to the article there are several types of migration “permanent, return, and temporary or occasional”. Anne White explores the management of migration and finds some ways to measure migration. However it is still impossible to say the exact figure of people who migrated during Soviet and post-Soviet periods, but it is obvious that immigration was “popular”.

Nowadays migration is normal phenomenon. It is widespread all over the world! I have just been to the USA and I met a lot of people who moved from ex-Soviet republics to America. All of them had their own reason to move, but I have heard about some cases when people were made to immigrate.

As for me I don’t want to move anywhere as I love my homeland, but….who knows? =)

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