Page 119 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
what makes it possible for one of our informants in Edirne in his capacity of 1) municipal official in
Edirnemunicipality and 2) vice-president of the Management board of the Confederation of Balkan
Turks to represent officially the Bulgarian out-migrants and to tell us during the official meeting in
the municipality about the institutional organization of their life after their re-settlement in Edirne
in 1989, about their uniting in different NGOs, about the issuing of political posters, about the
organization’s participation in different municipal projects for cooperation with Bulgarian towns,
such as Haskovo, Yambol, and Burgas. Also, combining two official powers – that given to him by
the Turkish institution and the one given to him by the Bulgarian out-migrants – he was able to
officially represent the group at the opening of the exhibition in the St Konstantin and Elena Church
among officials on the Bulgarian side.
Alongside such strategies for accumulating social capital, there appear the strategies for
competing in acquiring the monopoly over the representation
of Bulgarian out-migrants to
Edirne. An example of such a strategy is the foundation of the Bulturk Society in Istanbul in 2003.
This society claims to speak at long last“the truth”about Bulgarian out-migrants, unlike the previous
organizations which render the truth about “Bulgarian Turks” under the overall banner of “Balkan
Turks”.
In the course of our joint field work, I managed to trace a number of other strategies for
taking advantage of inheritance
as a form of belonging to the group of Bulgarian out-migrants
in Edirne. It is important to note here that these are effective practical acts at the level of agents, not
because of the actions of the agents themselves, but because the social condition for the possibility
of these strategies is the
institutional retainment of the “inheritance” and “memory”
of this
group. I will enumerate some of them:
strategies for selecting
the projects for cooperation with certain Bulgarian towns with
regard to trans-border exchanges of folklore, traditions, cuisine, cultural and sports events, as well
as
rejecting
the partnership with others;
strategies for justifying
the choicemadewith regard to re-settlement and
condemning
the choice to return: these two extremes of experience – of “staying” and “returning” – generate
different strategies for justifying the choice which is made, then they also lead to the emergence
of a range of
contradictory ideologies
which are employed to instrumentalize one’s own
interpretation of the life of some “over there” and of others “over here”
27
;
strategies for justified closeness and lack of foreignness –
“they trusted us deeply, I
don’t know why” (H., deputy manager of the Federation of Balkan Turks);
strategies for organizing and consolidating
the group of Bulgarian out-migrants, or
for the“hidden agenda”of the organization –“we preserve the language and practice it, we receive
Bulgarian newspapers, we have access to Bulgarian TV stations, in the club we listen to Barekov
on BTV every day, to keep ourselves up to speed” (H., deputy manager of the Federation of Balkan
Turks).
Different“
nominations
”arerecruitedfor thiscompetitivestruggletoacquireandaccumulate
27 Here I simply signpost this issue, without analyzing the micro-level layers. I analyze this aspect in detail in
another paper stemming from our work in the project.