In this article we analyze results of questionnaires (1428 respondents) and interviews (43 respondents) collected in St. Petersburg and Moscow area. The participants were adolescents from ethnically diverse migrant families from the Caucasus and Middle Asia. Multiple variants of ethnic identity manifestation are classified into four categories: monoethnic, bi-ethnic, pan-ethnic and refusal from identification. Interviews’ analysis reveals that adolescents base their identity choices on primordial as well as on constructivist arguments. Refusal to identify with a certain ethnic group we consider as a sign of identity conflict. Russian identity was chosen by 18% of migrant adolescents from the Caucasus and Middle Asia. Family and school form local social environment that reflect and actualize structural conditions of the host community. Adolescents construct their identity using resources available from family (native language, cultural practices, family history) and from school (multiethnic communicative environment, Russian language). Identity choice also depends on the position of a given ethnic group in the host society. The presence of strong and successful diasporas, such as Armenian or Azerbaijani, encourages children who were born in Russia to identify with these ethnic groups. Russian identity is more often chosen by adolescents from ethnic groups whose diasporas only recently emerged in St. Petersburg (Tajiks and Uzbeks). Pan-ethnic identities, such as “muslims” or “Caucasians”, emerge in multiethnic schools and allow adolescents to draw new boundaries between ethnic groups. There is also a tendency of adolescents from small ethnic minorities to use pan-ethnic identity for self-identification.

Keywords: migrants, adolescents, ethnic identity, ethnic boundaries, pan-ethnic identity, Russia