Among Equals? Russian Germans’ Everyday Life in Kazakhstan and the Altai Republic, 1955-2000

A research project by Dr. Alina Jašina-Schaefer (Advised by Dr. Hans-Christian Petersen)

In order to gain deeper insights into the multiple affiliation processes of diaspora nationalities, this subproject seeks to investigate the complex individual everyday practices of German diaspora in the Soviet Union in the second half of the 20th century. Following the Stalinist repressions and deportations, the period from 1955 onwards marks the so-called reconstruction and normalization during which many Russian Germans, despite continuing discrimination, for example in the field of education, were given new opportunities for social integration and social advancement. Through an ethnographic examination of individual memories of the late Soviet period, the diverse family histories, social networks, and cultural practices, this research aims to understand better the meanings of  the Sovietization and normalization processes in the individual everyday lives of Russian Germans. How did they overcome the stigma of the wartime? What did it mean for the Russian Germans, – especially in the peripheral areas, to be “Soviet citizens”? In contrast, how did their “Germanness” express itself? What were the differences between rural and urban dwellers? Secondly, the project examines the eroding communities and individual life experiences during and after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the mass emigration of Russian Germans to Germany: What influences did these changes have on the remaining diaspora groups and their everyday practices?

The project focuses on the Siberian Altai region and the Karaganda region (Kazakhstan), two areas that had significant Russian German populations and were ethnically heterogeneous at the same time. The project aims to open up new perspectives on life in the rural areas in late socialism (late Soviet village) as well as to focus on multiethnic cultural exchanges and encounters.

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