Deconstructing Essentialist Identities: Reimagining the Russian Disapora of the Third Wave
The identity of the Third Wave Russian Diaspora has been misunderstood through the oversimplification of their ethnic and language identity. In addition, the methodologies of sociolinguistic fieldwork, including bilingual studies in the Russian Diaspora, contain essentialism at their core. The paper explores the problem of the essentialist identity in the study of the Third Wave Diaspora and how it is created and maintained. In the first part of the thesis, I unpack the history of the Third Wave Soviet émigrés to understand why they were essentialized as Soviet or Russian Jews before becoming immigrants and then the Russian Diaspora. As a way to open up the discussion of the problem of studying Russian diaspora as one group, I discuss the methodologies of several key scholars in this field. Then, I specifically look at lexical data that have been studied by scholars on the Russian Diaspora. I use lexical terms I gathered from Soviet dictionaries to analyze and deconstruct the interpretations by the previous scholars. My conclusion is that because of this oversimplification of the Third Wave Russian Diaspora and methodological tendency to essentialize identities in studies, the Russian Diaspora and the language as a result have also been essentialized.
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