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Russian-speaking immigrants in Canada : belonging, political subjectivity, and struggle for recognition Rogova, Anastasia

Abstract

This dissertation explores various aspects of how Russian-speaking immigrants in Toronto negotiate their sense of belonging, social identities, forms of political participation, and citizenship. The particular topics that I address include: the dominant forms of historical imagination in the community and its preoccupation with contested historical topics, especially in regards to World War II; immigrants’ disagreement with liberal gender politics and sex education programs at public schools, which I interpret as a manifestation of their insecurity about their children’s identities and their parental rights; ideas about education among Russian-speaking immigrants, which reveal their concerns about social class and privilege and their striving to ascertain a sense of belonging to a higher social status in their new country; and, finally, the aspirations for inclusion and full participation in Canadian society that drive their political and cultural activism. I examine how class aspirations based on a high level of education conflate with cultural and moral values of the Russian-speaking community and form the basis for their political mobilization and struggle for their right to be included in the society as a group with their own distinct cultural and historical narratives. I study political participation of Russian-speaking immigrants as a diasporic group in Canada and show how their citizenship practices are simultaneously informed by their Soviet and post-Soviet experiences and by the Canadian political discourse, including the politics of multiculturalism. My research contributes to the understanding of Russian-speaking immigrants in Canada and their experiences of participation in Canadian society. My dissertation also addresses how Canadian multiculturalism policies impact various groups of Canadians who struggle for their right to be included in the society as a group with their own distinct cultural and historical narratives. Exploring the Russian-speaking immigrant community in Canada, I analyze how their allegiance to their new country and the ways in which they embrace its citizenship practices co-exist with a sense of belonging and allegiance to their homeland. Overall, my study of Russian-speaking immigrants contributes to understanding how diasporas negotiate their multiple ways of belonging in a world where multiple political allegiances are often seen as threatening and questionable.

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