"Yeast for the Russian land": Envisioning the return of Primorskii Krai's old believers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 2009, Old Believer families began immigrating from South America to Pri-morskii Krai through the Resettlement of Compatriots Program. Their bright, traditional clothing, rural lifestyle, and mannerisms have enamored many, including a group of compatriots advocates in Moscow, who have decided to lobby for additional state support on the Old Believers’ behalf. In Primorskii Krai, though, conflict has arisen between the Old Believers, the local govern-ment, and villagers. Officials from Moscow have intervened in support of the Old Believers, exacerbating tensions between central and regional authorities. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this article explores the conflict and compatriots advocates’ efforts to attract Old Believers from abroad to the Far East. I argue that the advocates’ interest in the Old Believers comes out of racialized anxieties about demographic changes along Russia’s border with China. By supporting the Old Believers, advocates envision a rural Russian past as an alternative to a post-Soviet present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-99
Number of pages19
JournalRegion: Regional Studies of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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