Meeting of the Scientific and Theoretical seminar of the Center for Comparative Socio-Economic and Political Studies


On April 3, 2023 the Center for Comparative Socio-Economic and Political Studies of IMEMO held the regular meeting of the Scientific and Theoretical Seminar. The meeting was held in a mixed format. The report "Belarusian Diaspora: Problems of Formation, Expansion, Preservation and Research" was made by Vladimir Snapkovsky, Dr. of Sciences (History), Professor of the Belarusian State University.

The report raised and discussed a wide range of issues concerning the state and prospects of studying the Belarusian diaspora, the history of formation and growth of emigration waves from the ethnic territory of Belarus, the current position of the Belarusian diaspora in the world (in the West and in the post-Soviet space). The speaker analyzed from the point of view of terminology various concepts that are often used in scientific publications ("emigration", "diaspora", "abroad"). The most important of them can be considered the term "Belarusian diaspora", which should be applied to a certain number of countries where organized forms of ethno-cultural presence of Belarusians actually exist (Western and post-Soviet states).

Vladimir Snapkovsky focused on the key social characteristics of the Belarusian diaspora, relying mainly on the experience of its integration into Western society (the USA, Great Britain, Western Europe). In this respect, the social composition of Belarusian emigrants, their influence on the socio-economic and socio-political life of the host countries and compact regions of residence were considered. It was noted that a significant part of post-war emigrants integrated into Russian and Polish emigrant communities and assimilated with the local population. Characteristic processes of assimilation in this respect took place with the Belarusians of Argentina and other countries of Latin America.

The political and ideological foundations of the activities of the Belarusian emigration are revealed, and its foreign policy concepts and actions are characterized. Speaking about the differences between the "Western" and "Eastern" diasporas, Vladimir Snapkovsky expressed the opinion that the first has mainly political character, while the second (intra-imperial, intra-union and partially post-Soviet) was formed on the basis of economic reasons of migration processes.

The rapporteur spoke about the achievements of Belarusian diaspora communities, primarily in the national-cultural sphere, which in the West were actually unaffected by Sovietization and communist propaganda. He also dwelled on the problems and difficulties that compatriots had previously and are now experiencing abroad (identification, educational system of the host countries, connection of generations, religious and linguistic factors, difficult relations with the metropolis). The speaker noted some of the features of post-Soviet emigration and its most recent wave, which rose after the political crisis in Belarus in August 2020.

Igor Kuznetsov, Associate Professor of the Department of Political Science and International Political Processes at the University of Law and Social-Information Technologies in Minsk, Cand. of Science (Politics), made a joint report "Belarusian Diaspora in Russia". The report was devoted to a number of basic problems of existence and prospects of studuing the Belarusian diaspora in the Russian Federation at the turn of the XX-XXI centuries. In this respect, the co-rapporteur noted that the modern historiography of the Belarusian diaspora in Russia is rich and diverse. The periodization of the historical process of formation of the Belarusian diaspora in Russia, the factors of influence of the national question and ethnic problems on the international, especially interethnic relations in the post-Soviet space were disclosed in the report. The speaker marked the peculiarities of the current situations of Belarusians in Russia, noting the growing processes of their assimilation and reduction of the Belarusian diaspora from 1.2 million people in 1989 to 520 thousand people according to the results of the 2010 census. According to the 2021 census, the number of Belarusians in Belarus is 208 046 people. A different attitude to the metropolis – the Republic of Belarus and the political course of its leadership – is the cause of discrepancies among representatives of the diaspora in different regions of the Russian Federation, as well as of "intergeneration split" among Moscow and St. Petersburg Belarusians, which can have a negative impact on the continuity of generations in the preservation of national identity.

Dr. of Science (History) Kirill Kholodkovskiy, Dr. of Science (Economics) Irina Tsapenko, Cand. of Science (Economics) Irina Sadovaya, Cand. of Science (Politics) Elena Kuzmina, Cand. of Science (Politics) Sergei Arteev, Cand. of Science (Politics) Maxim Sigachev, Cand. of Science (Economics) Nina Goffe, Cand. of Science (Politics) Alexey Zenkov, Junior Research Fellow Tatiana Khaynatskaya, Junior Research Fellow Elizaveta Matiukhova took part in the session of questions and answers following the results of the speeches.

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