Page 109 - MIGRATION

Basic HTML Version

107
MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
representative cases with regard to the studied migrant groups. These are interesting from a
socioanalytical perspective for two reasons:
1) they give empirical data for different modalities of inheriting – both at the
institutional
and at the
everyday
levels;
2) they highlight different forms of borderlinesswith regard to the agentswhohave acquired
the respective social essence and “become what they are”.
2. The group of Thracian refugees
The Union of Thracian Societies in Bulgaria
(UTSB) was founded in 1896 and unites
numerous Thracian organizations in the country, within which also functionYouth societies and the
ThracianWomen’sUnion.Theorganization’splaceandsignificance in thesocial space inBulgariavary
across time according to particular political contexts. The Union was dissolved by the communist
regime in 1977 with a formal Decision of the Politburo of the Bulgarian Communist Party’s Central
Committee. Its activities were resumed in 1990 at the National Conference of the Representatives
of Thracian Societies when the Statute of the organization was accepted. The primary goal of the
organization, as its Statute states, is to “champion a united, independent, democratic and whole
Bulgaria, as well as a just and peaceful solution to the national question and the Thracian cause as
an intrinsic part of it”. This goal is later specified in the manner of a requirement for “upholding and
realizing the Bulgarian national cause for Thrace, the right to return and revive Bulgarian-ness to
Eastern and Western Thrace, the development of the Thracian spirit, the preservation of Thracian
heritage, the securingof humanandproperty rights ofThracian refugees and their descendants”.The
Thracian societies are “public and patriotic, non-government organizations in which membership
is voluntary”. After Bulgaria became an EU member state the organization posited a new goal in its
programme – the establishment of “Thrace without borders”as a long-term strategy for developing
the Euroregion of Thrace spanning across three countries. Several years down the line, it is clear
that this goal is far from being reached and is nearly forgotten at the level of local structures. The
ideology behind the slogan“Don’t forget, but do not avenge”which is the motto of the newspaper
Thrace
, the central “speaker” of the official discourse of the organization, captures most accurately
its self-identification – the organization reflects both on its identity, and the identity of the inheritors
of Thracian Bulgarians
through heritage and memory
.
14
The organization which unites institutionally the group of the so-called “refugees” from
Edirne Thrace uses as its core resource for identification and self-identification
the past
– “then”
is what vests “now” with meaning. This is an example of a contradiction which does not allow the
organization to find its adequate role and position in the contemporary situation of loss of classical
forms of social being and community.
14 Similar views are expressed by Ganeva-Raycheva in “Migration, memory, heritage: the example of Thracian
Bulgarians, descendants of refugees and re-settlers from Eastern Thrace”. According to her, the fundamental resource
for constructing Thracian identity is “history and memory” (cf. Ganeva-Raycheva 2011).