“From Popular Markets to Family Businesses and to Russian Markets: an Horizontal Economy of the ‘Poor’ as a Survival Strategy of the Returnees from the Former Soviet Union from mid-80s until Today”

This research examines the economic networks of the Greek post-soviet migrants in Thessaloniki and the various ways they affect (and are affected by) mobility and migration practices, as well as the formations and deformations of previous and newer diasporic communities.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union more than 150.000 Greek natives migrated to Greece (or “returned” according to the official narrative),  in an effort to rebuild their lives from zero in the “homeland of their ancestors”. From 1990’s until the beginning of the new millennium, These migrants were involved in various commercial activities (mainly inside informal economic zones and thanx to loose state control) often implicating transnational mobility. The fur market, the tourist industry, the construction sector, and the open-popular markets become a privileged field of employment and business activity, on which Russophone post-soviet Greeks find a place through hard work and the appropriate kinship or diasporic networks. Despitethe fact that, among them, Greece was considered as the “final patria”, transnational practices never stopped to take placein both collective and individual levels; Germany, UK, Cyprus, proved to be favorable destinations who welcomed, at least temporarily, several post-soviet populations including Greeks.The Greek crisis of 2010, followed by the worsening of living conditions, increased (re)migration tendencies to western Europe along with return practices to southern Russia.

The objective of this research, based on semi-directed interviews and extended fieldwork in acompany owned by post-soviet entrepreneurs, was to explore the interaction between migration strategies, economic networks and diasporic communities, and the same time, to put into scrutiny several stereotypes around “Greekness” or “Ponticness” based on the myth of the “final” and “eternal”patria.Finally, the quest for the linkages between the “rise and fall” of specific economic sectors over time, and the post-soviet mobility, through the Greek example, reveals various economic and migrating practices embedded into the social and cultural norms of the diasporic communities.

The research was accomplished by the post doc researchers Dimitris Kataiftsis and Anastasios Grigorakis and was supervised by the Professor of the academic department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies Eftihia Voutira.

“This research is co-financed by Greece and the European Union (European Social Fund-ESF) through the Operational Programme «Human Resources Development, Education and Lifelong Learning 2014-2020”

Πληροφορίες ένταξης πράξης ΕΣΠΑ: https://empedu.gov.gr/decision/apo-tis-laikes-agores-stis-oikogeneiakes-epicheiriseis-sta-russian-markets-mia-orizontia-oikonomia-ton-quot-ftochon-quot-os-stratigiki-epiviosis-ton-epanapatristhenton-apo-tin-proin-essd-apo-ta-mesa-t/