Black in USSR – children of soviet Russia search for their own identity

“When people ask me about my background I usually start by explaining how my mum is Russian, my dad is Ghanaian and that I was born in Bulgaria,” says the photographer Liz Johnson Artur. “It often becomes a long explanation.”

Calvert Journal: I was born in St Petersburg. Both my parents worked for the UN. My mum is Russian and my dad’s family is from Guadeloupe and Brittany. My mum’s family left Russia after the revolution. Because of my parents’ work I lived for ten years in Africa – Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Ethiopia. I moved back to France for my baccalaureate and after I finished my law degree I took part in an exchange program. I had a choice: Bangladesh or Russia. I chose Russia, and came to St Petersburg in 1995.

In the beginning I worked as a legal advisor on human rights issues. I also have a degree in economics, so when the exchange program came to an end I started lecturing economics at the university.

I live with my eleven cats in a small one-bedroom flat. It’s not much, but I like my life here. And I see more job opportunities here than back in France.


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