The Tenacity of Transnational Networks: Vietnamese Migrants in the Soviet Union and Russian Federation

Cynthia Buckley, Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and University of Texas at Austin
Everett J. Peachey, University of Michigan
Erin T. Hofmann, University of Texas at Austin

The flexibility and adaptability of migrant networks enables them to meet changes in destination markets, shifting regional demand, evolving legislative restrictions, and gendered variations in employment opportunities. Migration streams can also be resilient in terms of destination. We explore how Vietnamese migrant networks to the Russian Federation negotiate dramatic regime change at both origin and destination, and trace the persistence of Vietnamese migration to Russian Federation during a period of expanding possible destinations. In the 1970s state-sponsored labor contracts and educational exchanges established North Vietnamese networks within Soviet Russia. Vietnamese workers continue to seek temporary work in the Russian Federation, enabled by personal networks and a new migration industry controlling short term labor contracts. Using census data, surveys, expert interviews and observational data we document the initiation, growth, and persistence of Vietnamese migration flows into Russia. Our findings deepen theories of network adaptability and destination resilience, while highlighting cultural resilience.

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Presented in Session 139: New Migrants in Europe