Darya Malyutina

Darya Malyutina is a sociologist and human geographer who has written about post-Soviet and Russian-speaking migrants in the West, social networks, transnationalism, ethnography, and methodological and ethical challenges of research in social sciences and humanities.

She holds a PhD in Geography from UCL (2013) and is the author of Migrant Friendships in a Super-Diverse City: Russian-Speakers and their Social Relationships in London in the 21st Century (ibidem-Verlag, 2015). Her articles came out in journals including Urban Studies, Russian Politics, The Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society, and Sociological Research Online. In 2016-2017, she was a Pontica Magna Research Fellow at the New Europe College in Bucharest. In 2018, she was a Research Fellow at the Polish Institute of Advanced Studies in Warsaw.

Her most recent work has focused on the challenges of knowledge production faced by researchers of Ukraine since the start of the Euromaidan and during the ongoing armed conflict in the East of Ukraine.

Research project: Political dimensions of migration from Russia in the 2010s: between ‘lifestyle’ and ‘exile’?

This study explores the political dimensions of voluntary migration from contemporary Russia. She focuses on the Russian migrants who have moved out of Russia in the 2010s, after the start of Putin’s third term as president, following the increasingly restrictive treatment of the civil society and independent media in Russia, and, later, the Euromaidan in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, and the start of the armed conflict in the Donbas. The project stems from the idea that recently certain trends have been emerging that are related to migration from Russia to the West. One trend encompasses the increase in mobility of those who have suffered or risked actual persecution in Russia, and have left it to become asylum-seekers elsewhere. The other trend demonstrates the increasing politicisation of mobility of those who are usually considered as middle-class/highly skilled/professional subjects and groups, manifested in the (self-reported) concerns about risks and precarity associated with the political system in contemporary Russia, presented as (one of the) motivations behind their decision to move.

The major argument of this research is that political motivations like dissatisfaction with the political regime can underscore the mobility of ‘lifestyle migrants’ - educated, mobile, transnationally connected, and relatively well-off individuals – which has been largely neglected by lifestyle migration scholarship. The role of the political is explored by disentangling the combination of ‘lifestyle’ and ‘exile’ elements in the migration perceptions of Russians who have moved beyond Russia’s borders in the last years. The project will draw upon a variety of sources including scholarship, policy reports, migration statistics, media publications, and interviews. By refining the concept of lifestyle migration and concentrating on its political dimension, this study will highlight the potential salience of the elements of risk and precarity in the transnational analysis of middle-class and professional subjects and groups, and contribute to the scholarship that underlines the complexity of migration and border-transcending practices.

Dates of stay: 01 October 2019 - 31 July 2020