From Dancing with the Stars
to the high-profile airport abandonment of seven-year-old Artyom Savelyev by his American adoptive parents in April 2010, popular representations of post-Soviet immigrants in America span the gamut of romantic anti-Communist origin stories to horror stories of transnational adoption of children from Russia. In her latest book, The New Immigrant Whiteness: Race, Neoliberalism, and Post-Soviet Migration to the United States
(New York University Press, 2018), Claudia Sadowski-Smith
analyzes a plethora of sources from reality tv shows to memoirs and interviews to examine how post-Soviet migrants represent idealized examples of immigrant assimilation and upward mobility in the United States. Sadowski-Smith’s work adds critical analysis to both public and academic American immigration discourses. She evaluates how these migrants have access to a white racial identity often denied to Latino/a and Asian immigrants, how modes of migration impact post-Soviet migrants access to upward mobility, and how these migrants understand anti-immigration legislation aimed at migrants of color. Overall, she examines post-Soviet migrants in the contemporary context of the racialization of immigrants in the United States.
Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon is a History Instructor at Lee College.