Russian society vs Russian refugeedom. The experience of 1914–1922

Surzhikova N.V.

Dr Sci. (Hist.), Leading Researcher, Head of the Group of Everyday Life History, Institute of History and Archeology, Urals Branch of the RAS, Ekaterinburg, Russia

DOI: 10.7868/S0132162517090100
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For citation:

Surzhikova N.V. Russian society vs Russian refugeedom. The experience of 1914–1922. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2017. No 9. P. 88-98


The article attempts to analyze the social status of the First World War refugees in Russia of 1914–1922. According to the author, their place in society was determined by the processes of social exclusion and marginalization, stigmatization and discrimination. This was clearly reflected by the activities and rhetoric of both public institutions and state bodies, which turned refugeedom into a battlefield for power in its broadest sense. In the course of this battle, refugees, among other things, were attributed the property of a natural, historically predetermined inferiority, which is a direct reference to the typical perception of the inhabitants of the colonies (national borderlands) by the metropolitan population. Refugees themselves took the position of self-exclusion, which allowed them to protect their pre-refugee past, which in turn served as the basis for their right to subjectivity. Defending their “refugeeness”, refugees first of all defended the prospect of their social rehabilitation, which implied their return migration from the world of the outcasts to the actual world of the devotees that had changed abruptly since the beginning of the First World War. Despite the dramatic nature of the refugees fates, the cumulative effect of the Russian refugeedom was positive in many ways. By dynamizing social orders, refugeedom transformed gender, socio-professional and ethno-cultural status of both refugees and non-refugees. It proved that the social landscape was mobile, challenging the idea of stable social groups as such. As a result, after refugeedom the path to modern modulations of sociality based on the principles of multisyllabicity and variability was opened for Russian society.

First World War; Russian refugeedom; exclusion; marginalization; discrimination; self-isolation; subjectivity


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Content No 9, 2017