A History of the Soviet Diaspora in the Post-Cold War Era (1989-2015): Case Studies of Russian-Speakers in South Korea, Cambodia, and The Netherlands




Harmon-Donovan, Dylan J.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This thesis aims to look at the history of Russian immigration and diaspora formation since the end of the Cold War period in 1989. It analyzes the destinations of Russian immigrants, the patterns and dissimilarities among the post-Soviet Russian- speaking diaspora, and particular motivations for leaving Russia during the 1990s and early 2000s. In particular I will examine the post-Cold War immigration of Russians into Asia, with case study examinations of Cambodia and South Korea. What particular reasons drove Russians from their homeland, and what particular reasons attracted these groups of Russians to East and Southeast Asia, over the traditional destinations of North America and Western Europe? There have been relatively few studies done on post- Soviet Russian migration. The history of Russian migrants in East and Southeast Asia is sparse, other than some literature on early twentieth century Soviet migration to Shanghai and Manchuria. In an effort to highlight the particularities of post-Soviet immigration into East Asia, I will also present the history of the Russian diaspora into the Netherlands as a contrast. The Netherlands, like Cambodia and South Korea, is a small densely populated nation with high levels of tourism. However the Netherlands is a wealthy European nation, which attracts different types of migrant classes than an Asian nation. I will present the case study of Russian immigration into the Netherlands alongside Cambodia and South Korea to show how emigration from post-Soviet states since the 1990s progressed along different paths, but how initial motives for migration as well as diaspora organization patterns are similar within these Russian-speaking groups in diverse host societies. Academic studies on recent Russian migration over the past twenty years are scarce, and give justification to this research. The 1990s and early 2000s were tumultuous and chaotic times for the Russian state, and the historical significance of this time period has yet to really be analyzed, most likely due to its contemporary relevance. The actions of Russia over the recent years, such as the invasion of Georgia in 2008, military action in Ukraine in 2014-2015, and a general increase in aggressive foreign political influence in Russia’s near abroad, display that Russia has come out of its political lull, and has emerged as an energy superpower and re-emerged as a political power state in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Analyzing the history of Russian migration during the 1990s and early 2000s will allow better understanding of the particularly chaotic period following the demise of the Soviet Union, and will allow for a better understanding of how post-Soviet Russian diaspora groups self-identify culturally, socially, and ethnically.



Russian-speakers, Diaspora


Harmon-Donovan, D. J. (2015). <i>A history of the Soviet diaspora in the post-Cold War era (1989-2015): Case studies of Russian-speakers in South Korea, Cambodia, and The Netherlands</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


Rights Holder

Rights License

Rights URI