Shrinking opportunities on the Soviet periphery pushed increasing numbers of Caucasus and Central Asian peoples to late twentieth-century Moscow. This article analyses the migration experiences of two Kyrgyz, one Uzbek and one Azeri who left their native villages, eventually engaging in private trade in Moscow's streets and markets. Using oral histories, the article reveals the importance and extent of trading networks across the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the opportunities as well as perils that faced those who participated in this grey-market activity. Traders confronted complicated dynamics of inclusion and exclusion, and sometimes racism, from the host society. The migrant experience transformed ideas of identity and ethnicity, at home and away. As each realized economic goals, these traders also considered pursuit of social mobility, attracted by Moscow's dynamism. Strong family relationships and a tenuous sense of incorporation in the Soviet capital drove them home in the late 1980s.

Additional Metadata
Keywords interethnic contact, migration, racism, Soviet Union, trade
Persistent URL
Sahadeo, J. (2011). The accidental traders: Marginalization and opportunity from the southern republics to late Soviet Moscow. doi:10.1080/02634937.2011.602563