Twisted Trajectories and Jewish-Muslim Interfaces: Bukharan Jews of Central Asia in Vienna


  • Vera Skvirskaja University of Copenhagen



USSR, Uzbekistan, shadow economy, migration infrastructure, cultural mobility


This article discusses migration of Bukharan Jews – an ethnic-religious minority in (post-)Soviet Central Asia – and the establishment of multi-confessional, multi-ethnic Central Asian diaspora in the city of Vienna, Austria. During the Cold War period, Vienna was transformed from being a major transit hub for Soviet Jews moving from the USSR to Israel, USA and other destinations to a site of the most numerous and prominent Bukharan Jewish diaspora in Europe. Using the concept of ‘migration infrastructure’, the article investigates the ways in which this transformation took place. Furthermore, it focuses on Jewish-Muslim interfaces, both in Soviet Uzbekistan and present-day diaspora, to document the ongoing, albeit changing, coexistence and collaboration across ethnic-religious boundaries that facilitate transnational migration. I argue that the Jewish infrastructure, which emerged in Vienna’s historically Jewish district of Leopoldstadt in the last decades, has also become a migrant infrastructure for the post-Soviet Tadjik-speaking Muslim migrants from Central Asia.

Author Biography

Vera Skvirskaja, University of Copenhagen

VERA SKVIRSKAJA is a social anthropologist and Associate Professor at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen. Her research interests include post-Soviet society, migration, coexistence, cultural heritage and grass-roots propaganda.


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