Page 149 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
Bulgaria, the politics of the Bulgarian state to the resettlers, the different migration waves in the
village after 1950s and 1960s, the resettlers’ preserved contacts with Bulgaria – as expressed by
providing financial support not only to families in Bulgaria, but also to municipalities in the region.
Topics, which also prop out in the conversations are those about education and employment – as
factors that influence migration and that condition the lack of young people in the village; about
the permanent returning of resettlers – only as pensioners, who come back to live in their native
village, but with the pensions received from neighboring Turkey. In contrast – young people very
rarely return to settle back and they wait until they reach a pension age, that’s why they visit the
village only on major holidays.
The public gatherings of this type outline interesting aspects of the memory about the
“Revival” process, the “May Events” and the “Big excursion” to neighboring Turkey – firstly, by the
ways in which these events have marked the biographies and the memory of individuals, families
and villages, thus determining nowadays a specific dynamics of travelling back, of returning to
the native places. Although during the conversations there appear memories about the violent
change of names in the 1980s, about the limitations in using Turkish language and about the
pressure against religious practices, still, the major themes in these accounts are the resettlement
itself, the separation from the native village and the possibility of return – once a year or for good.
In the narratives and in the individual memories, the returning back is not so much to the“Revival”
process (as a policy of the communist party and as practices related to this policy), but rather – to
the resettlement itself and to the turns in the individual and family biographies after that. Not the
policy of exclusion and repression of the ethnic and religious minority, but the traumatic event
itself has turned into the launching point, from which the past is remembered and the present
behavior is reconstructed as commemorative practices and return to the native places. Whereas
the occasions of political and police repressions remained in the background and sank down in
memory, without withering out completely, in the foreground there remains the memory about
the leaving of the native places, the crossing of the state border, and the complicated path as
a resettler in another state. Concentrating enormous psychological and symbolic potential, the
circumstances around the resettlement seem to subordinate hierarchically the other preceding
events, which is also supported by the lasting resonance that resettlement has on subsequent
life paths of individuals and groups. Starting lives anew at various locations in the Republic of
Turkey, the attempts for adaptation, the broken family ties – both with relatives that remained
in Bulgaria, and with families who could not adjust to the new environment and returned back
– all these emerge as an important narrative background in the shared memories. And they
also outline the commemoration of the “Revival” process and the “May Events” in a way, which is
substantially different from the discourse that encompasses the official program of the political
commemorations.
Shared with the context of the organized activities of these public gatherings, the
narratives about the ways, in which the events of 1980s are remembered and interpreted,