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Language Policies in the Former-Soviet Space

Research carried out by Dr Polina Kliuchnikova, Dr Guzel Yusupova and Dr Konstantin Zamyatin examine contemporary language policies in and across the multilingual and multinational geopolitical area that was once the Soviet Union, together with its immediate environs. The three projects focus especially on language policies that relate to minorities and migrants. This research aims to inform and enhance public understanding and policymaking in these specific domains.

Dr Kliuchnikova's project (Language Border: Russian in FSU Migration) focuses on the sociolinguistics of current migration to the Russian Federation. It takes as its starting point the introduction in Russia of compulsory language certification as part of the issuing of work and residence permits for incoming migrants. It explores the role of language in: Russia’s migration policies and laws (especially those concerning entry language certification); official requirements for language certification exams for both general exams for foreign learners and migration-specific testing; state-initiated and funded language provision services and programmes for migrants. The project studies how policies are implemented at local level and how they are received by migrants, diaspora leaders, representatives of exam centres, and language tutors working with migrants.

Dr Yusupova’s project (The Revitalisation of Minority Languages in the Russian Federation: Nationalising Statehood, Inter-Ethnic Solidarity, and Digital Media) deals with policy towards minority languages in the Russian Federation. More specifically, she considers bottom-up reactions to the top-down assimilationist policy towards minority languages, on the example of two ethnic republics in particular – Tatarstan and Chuvashia. Her focus is on grassroots activities and she has particular interest in the use of digital media in this context. She seeks to evaluate the effects of this resistance on attitudes towards minority languages in the Russian Federation. Dr Yusupova has also designed a special experimental cross-faculty course Nation-building and Identity Politics in Contemporary Russia: Policy Analysis which introduces students to policy analysis and the composition of policy papers. She has taught this 8-week course in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Dr Zamyatin’s research (The Meeting of the ‘Finno-Ugric’ and ‘Russian Worlds’? National Minorities in Bilateral Relations on the EU-Russia Border) examines the languages policies of Russia, Estonia, Finland and Hungary, with a focus on minority language identities and rights. The topics that he engages with cover the official status of languages, official bi- and multilingualism, federal and regional language policies, ‘language revival’ and language promotion both inside and outside a given country, minority language policies, minority language education, indigenous education, and specifically the application of the European Language Charter in this context.

All three researchers have been regularly presenting their work not only to fellow academics, but also to wider audiences, with a view to impacting on the management of language policies, especially as these relate to migrants and minorities, both in the former-Soviet region and beyond it. Their outputs also include widely disseminated blogs. See the full list of relevant events and publications where audiences beyond academia have been engaged with.