Stories of (Be)longing to the Center: Race Class and Ethnicity in FSU Jewish Immigrant Experiences

By Marina Morgenshtern and Shoshana Pollack.

Published by The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations: Annual Review

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 7, 2016 $US5.00

This article reports on a study that examined the experiences of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union (FSU) in Toronto, specifically their employment and social experiences. Feminist intersectional theory, that analyzes the connections between subjectivity, nationhood, culture, race, class, gender, and sexuality, guided the analysis of twenty-two immigrant accounts collected through testimonio and oral history face-to-face interviews. The findings demonstrated how Canadian immigration policies and the interests and strategies employed by the neoliberal state enable the construction, reproduction, and maintenance of the ideologies of individualism, meritocracy, and competition, skilled/unskilled labor, and appropriate/respectable conduct. This study extended the existing intersectional analysis of the experiences of racialized immigrants from the Third World to include the experiences of white Jewish immigrants from the Second World. The use of the intersection of whiteness and middle-class status with Jewishness, immigrant status and Eastern European (FSU) origins as an analytical unit allowed us to highlight the previously unrecorded collective accounts of simultaneous participation in experiences of oppression and privilege, illuminate the impact of neoliberal discourses and practices on immigration narratives, and mark the complexities of whiteness with intersections of class, ethnicity, and geographic origins.

Keywords: Immigration, Communal Identity, Intersectionality

The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations: Annual Review, Volume 16, 2016, pp.19-35. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 7, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1007.053KB)).

Dr. Marina Morgenshtern

Contract Academic Staff Member, Faculty of Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Shoshana Pollack

Professor, Faculty of Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada