Natalia Moen-Larsen

University of Oslo

Natalia Moen-Larsen
Staff Page:

Russian Discourses on Refugees

This PhD project examines the discursive construction of “refugees” in the Russian context. It is possible to identify several different competing discourses that give meaning to the subject position “refugee”. These discourses define what it means to be a refugee, how refugees see themselves, and how refugees are seen by others. Are they for instance seen as victims of war who need our help? Or are they potential criminals? Answers to questions such as these take shape of practices and policies towards refugees. In this project I use a discourse theory approach to analyze data gathered from three Russian national newspapers in the period of 2014–2015, as well as speeches and statements made by central political actors.During the last couple of years Russian discourses on refugees have mainly been connected to two overarching themes – Ukrainian refugees coming to Russia and refugees from North Africa and the Middle East going to Europe. It is relevant to note in this context that Ukrainians are generally perceived as culturally close to Russians, and that they are Orthodox and fleeing to Russia. In contrast, refugees from the Middle East and North Africa are seen as culturally different, they are Muslim and they are fleeing to Europe. The former are “brothers” coming to “us”, the latter are “strangers” going to “them”. Thus it is of particular interest to me to examine how such differences are articulated in discourses, and what implications these articulations have for Russian policy towards refugees in general.