The Narratives of Russian Marital Migration

Project: Research

Layman's description

The project investigates gendered dimensions of the large emigration following the disbandment of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. It analyzes images of Russian women who moved abroad after finding a partner through contact agencies and investigates the power relations created and reflected by these images.

A quantitative and qualitative study of Norwegian and Swedish newspapers was carried out, showing that Russian women in this context are immediately associated with prostitution and/or assisted marriage. Next, literary texts were subjected to scrutiny: a close reading of Russian women’s novels and short stories revealed how their texts comment and subverts the monolithic, derogatory discourse which confronts marital migrants in Western countries. Finally, the subject of marital migration was studied on the basis of documentaries, TV-series and feature film. We showed that marital migration is instrumental in constructing national identities: here, women’s mobility is either stigmatized or woven into already established national mythologies. The keen attention media has devoted the subject since mid 1990s is explained by the emblematic function of marital migration: an emblem that illustrates a conflict between two central ideologuemes of modernity: First, the idea of individual responsibility for her own destiny, and second, the idea of the primacy of the marriage based on romance. In media the marital migrant is interpreted within the frame of the former idea, but then dismissed by references to the second. The marital migrant’s potential as a carrier of meaning depends on her role as the heroine in a narrative of individual success through entrepreneurship and initiative, but also on her spectacular way of transgressing modernity’s normative conceptions regarding romance.
Effective start/end date2001/01/012006/12/31