Page 10 - MIGRATION

Basic HTML Version

8
MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
justifying urban sites as ‘Bulgarian’, and who are indispensable in tracing the mechanisms of the
practices of recalling and retelling.
Another aspect of our analysis owes to the fact that Edirne is a regional centre and an active
party in transborder projects with Bulgaria. The town offers a range of opportunities for researching
the culture of music and dance in a broad Balkan context.
On its trips to Edirne, the team set up meetings and carried out interviews with the
representatives of a number of power-related, educational, or cultural institutions, with residents
from different generations, some of them born in Edirne, while others were settlers who had
migrated from Bulgaria. We got acquainted with the current transborder projects, and documented
the events related to Bulgarianness and to urban culture in general.
Istanbul.
Unlike Edirne, the community of settlers in Istanbul is infinitely larger,
heterogeneous and diffuse in terms of location. There is also the fact that theTurks fromBulgaria are
fluent in Bulgarian, which comes in handy with reference to fieldwork and participant observation.
We have done observations and carried out interviews in the residential areas densely populated
with target-group representatives (Ikitelli, Avcilar, and Bağcilar, and the Besyüz Evler area), in cafes
and restaurants frequented by settlers, at their offices or homes, etc. Istanbul proved a fruitful site
for researching issues such as the economic status and stratification among the Turks originating
from Bulgaria, the settlers’ attitudes and strategies with regard to education and how they compare
to the attitudes attributed to the Turkish minority in Bulgaria, the strategies employed to make the
most of the differences in the social security systems in Bulgaria and inTurkey, the relations between
the settlers and the Bulgarian community in Istanbul, etc.
We have done fieldwork observations based on three homeland-bound trips of refugees
from Eastern and Western Thrace who have settled in Turkey and Greece. These trips gave us the
opportunity to analyse their role in maintaining cultural memory and identity, in establishing
and reinforcing social networks, in acquiring and transmitting family-tree knowledge, etc. These
expeditions ‘tracing back the steps of our forefathers’ provide valuable information on the symbolic
appropriation of spaces on the other side of the border.
Bulgarian fieldwork sites
. These are the settlements where one can find representatives
of the two target groups (Haskovo, Kirdzhali, and Zavet), or else which are inhabited densely by the
descendants of refugees from Eastern and Western Thrace (Svilengrad, Madzharovo, the Tsarevo
municipality, Atolovo, Yambol region, Ivaylovgrad, and Svilengrad). We have also worked in the
places that participate actively in projects on transborder cultural cooperation with Edirne, namely
Yambol and Elhovo, and in those involved in the national fests and competitions annually bringing
together people from the Thrace region: Aheloy, Stara Zagora – the Stara Zagora mineral baths,
Burgas – Petrova niva, Ivaylovgrad – Ilieva niva, Varna. We have regularly observed and documented
events organised by the Union of Thracian societies in Sofia. The choice of fieldwork sites has been
made with reference to our research objectives. Zavet offered the opportunity to do observations
on the topic of turning a relatively closed rural community into a structure open to the big cities
and foreign countries. Migration of the Zavet type has been singled out as local people’s significant
economic strategy and an exemplar of achievement in life for the younger generation, as well as
a catalyst of the processes of categorizing the urban population according to their ethnicity and