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Regular version of the site

Article

Neighbourhood and perceptions in small cities on different Russian borders

Geography, Environment, Sustainability. 2020. Vol. 13. No. 1. P. 64-73.
Zotova M., Гриценко А. А.

National neighbourhood have a significant influence on the life of people living along the state borders. They shape human interactions across borders and border residents’ attitude towards neighbours. Many concepts like ‘neighbourhood’, ‘proximity’, ‘trust’, ‘(un)familiarity’, and ‘otherness’ are usually used to explain this processes in border studies. However, insufficient attention has been paid to the comparing of perceptions, life strategies and everyday life of borderland population depends on neighbouring policy, border regime and neighbourship. Here we focus on different Russian borders with Ukraine (the new contested border in Crimea), Kazakhstan (the EAEU`s internal border), and China (old international and contact border) using different sources of information, including expert interviews as well as field observations and focus groups conducted with locals. We find that people differentiate between the neighbors they know and the neighbouring state they do not trust. Significant differences between neighbouring territories, unfamiliarity, and otherness are not allowed to get in the way of contact, because it is this contact that allows local residents to make a living. In conclusion, our results suggest that while the objective differences between the various sections of Russian borders serve to diversify the neighbourhood situations, their subjective perceptions and social representations serve to unite them.