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demonstrate a particular relationship between the individual experience and its reference to a
“collective” framework of remembrance.
Without losing its functions as based upon a shared
past or on a common discursive background of what was lived through by the community, the
collective memory is stratified in individual memories and viewpoints, in personal approaches to
the traumatic events.
With all their concreteness and reference to selected moments of the lived
experience, the narratives of the past events are above all personal and individual, they include
people from the immediate family and kinship network, and they reflect personal attitudes –
as determined by the individual encounter with the events. On the other hand, the organized
commemorations, the political discourse and its related initiatives are to a large extent targeted to
overcoming the personal elements in thememoirs, and to its framingwithin a collective vision and
a notion of shared fate –itself embraced by the community as “collective memory.” The different
directions taken by the personal experiences and the individual recollections are related also to
the affiliation with the group, which has determined the presence of the traumatic event in the
individual human life paths. Without this affiliation, the individual and family biographies would
have a different logic and a different direction of evolvement, as in such a case, the leaving of the
native places, the border crossing, the resettlement, and the ensuing returns wouldn’t have taken
The contours of the collective as a group affiliation can be traced very easily in each of the
life stages of the BulgarianTurks – in their presence as“different within the framework of the nation
state, in the repressivemeasures against themduring the communist period, in their consolidation
as a community under the threat of repressions, in their mobilization as a resettlement wave in
the end of the 1980s. Moreover, the framework of the collective marks also the subsequent stages
in biographies – already in the life of the “resettlers” – their identification as a united community
both by the Bulgarian and the Turkish state, the support that they received from Turkey for
accommodation and adaptation after the resettlement, their distinguishing as “different” and
“alien” in the new setting and the difficulties of their integration in the local communities, etc.
The collective dimensions are visible also in the ensuing complicated cases about the so called
“double citizenship” (and – respectively, about the rights of having Bulgarian passports), about
the possibilities of crossing the border and of maintaining contacts with relatives and friends in
Bulgaria, and about the presence of this community as an object of political strategies during
elections in Bulgaria. The latter is particularly interesting with regards to the “gathering” of
resettlers for voting purposes – as a sign of their continuing affiliation with the Bulgarian state and
of their belonging to a community, which – regardless of the changes over time – has not lost its
group identity.
Scholars have widely discussed the issue of how events, which are aimed at repressions
and expulsions of minority groups, actually lead to their consolidation and to the crystallization
16 About the basic modes of functioning of the“collective”memory and, more specifically, about the“collective”
frameworks of remembrance, see Nora 2004, Ricoeur 2006, Halbwachs 1996, Connerton 1989, Gedi & Yigal 1996.
About the debates around the existence of “collective memory,” see Koselleck 2004.
17 About the place of the individual memoir in collective memory, see Crane 1997.