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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Dr Polina Kliuchnikova

Postdoctoral Fellow [OWRI] in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42457
Room number: ER254, Elvet Riverside II

Contact Dr Polina Kliuchnikova (email at

I am currently an OWRI Postdoctoral Research Fellow at MLAC, working on a 2-year project 'Language Border: Russian in FSU Migration' which is part of a transnational strand within a large interdisciplinary research programme, 'Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community', funded by the AHRC's Open World Research Initiative.

The project, supervised by Dr Andy Byford, focuses on 'Russian' as language of transnational interethnic communication in the context of recent migration from the former Soviet space to the Russian Federation. The project particularly explores three inter-related strands within this broad theme: Russian government's policy on language as a tool in controlling immigration flows; migrants’ own experiences of and views on Russian as a medium of communication in migration; and the development of initiatives on language support and consultancy targeting migrants.

As part of the research programme, I am also involved in running the 'Language & Identity in post-Soviet spaces' series - research seminars, workshops and events exploring the diversity of intersections that language and identity have in variable contexts across the former Soviet Union (FSU) territory. All news on the events run within this series can be found here.

I came to Durham as a research PhD student in 2011, having been awarded Durham University Student Scholarship (2011-2014), and received my Doctor of Philosophy degree in January 2016. I have an МА in Cultural Anthropology from the European University at St Petersburg and a Specialist Diploma in Sociology of Mass Communication from Samara State University. I am a Fellow of HEA since 2015. In October 2015-December 2016, I worked as Manager of the Sergey Averintsev Russkiy Mir Centre, a joint project of the Russkiy Mir Foundation and Durham University aimed at faciltating cultural, academic and scholarly contacts between Russia and the UK. 

Linguistic Biographies and Communities of Language of Russian Speakers in the UK (2011-2016)

My PhD thesis focused on linguistic aspects of the cultural integration of Russian-speaking migrants in the contemporary UK. Fieldwork for this project was carried out in the socially, culturally and linguistically distinctive region of the North East of England, including interviews and participant observation, as well as the discourse analysis of media and online sources. My research developed the idea of languages as sets of resources that both shape migrants’ life trajectories and influence the way their collective identities and cultural practices are performed. The variety of forms this process may take covers a wide range of domains of migrant experience: education and language mastering, career pathways and family ties, child upbringing and cultural bonding, emerging language attitudes and biographical narratives.

Professional Membership

  • Higher Education Academy (HEA)
  • British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES)
  • International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion Network (IMISCOE)
  • Migration Studies Group, Centre for Independent Social Research (CISR), St. Petersburg, Russia
  • ‘Russians in Britain’ Study Group
  • European University at St Petersburg Alumni (Europe) (EUSPA), country representative

Research Interests

  • Russian-speaking communities worldwide, Russian language and culture abroad, current FSU migration trends
  • Transnationalism studies, multilingualism and superdiversity, language ideologies and policies, linguistic rights
  • Linguistic anthropology & ethnography, folk linguistics, conversation analysis

Selected Publications

Journal Article

Conference Paper

Show all publications

Selected Grants

  • 2016: Russia - Western Europe: The Role of Translation in the Cultural Dialogue (£803.00 from CRCEES)
  • 2015: John Simpson Greenwell Memorial Fund Award
  • 2014: BASEES PG Research & Development Grant
  • 2014: John Simpson Greenwell Memorial Fund Award
  • 2012: John Simpson Greenwell Memorial Fund Award
  • 2011: Durham Doctoral Scholarship