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of their group identity.
Among the famous and well researched examples are those of the
Holocaust survivors, the Armenian and the Irish diasporas in Western Europe and North America,
the German population from the Sudeten lands, etc. Despite the differences between the separate
cases, on the one side, and the lines of similarity, which they have with various forms of political
and economic migration, on the other, most of the examples of this type indicate clearly the
transformation of the traumatic experience as a major reference point in the collective memory
of these communities. It is the largely same for the Bulgarian Turks too, for whom the “Revival”
process played an important role for their consolidation, for strengthening their self-awareness
about group identity, regardless of the spatial dispersion that occurred after the resettlement. To
these processes of collective self-identification, it is important to add also the import shift that
occurred – the affiliation to the“community of the Bulgarian Turks”has been transferred already to
the community of the “resettlers.”The two groups do not coincide, at least due to the fact that not
all those included in the first one belonged to the resettlement wave of the 1980s (and in previous
resettlements too), and because the term “Bulgarian Turks” does not encompass the traumatic
experience of a large part of this community during the communist regime, especially in its last
decade. For the personwho has passed through resettlement and for the descendants of resettlers,
the identification is already not merely as a“BulgarianTurk,”but rather – as a“resettler.”
The events
around the resettlement have not only laid a lasting trace upon the biographical experience, but
have also posed a challenge to the group identity and self-identification. They have partly broken
their ethnically colored stereotype and have added elements of group fate to the ethnic marker.
Not least, they have been transferred also to people of the following generation, who do not
remember the resettlement or who were not born yet at the time, but who (mostly in Bulgarian
milieu) state affiliation namely to the thus identified community of the resettlers.
In such away, the resettlement in the end of the 1980s thoroughly changed the biographies
of the affected individuals and families and not only deepened their ambiguity in relation to the
Bulgarian society, but also de-stabilized some of the founding moments in their group identity,
particularly expressed nowadays with regards to getting a permanent settlement, returning back
to Bulgaria, or regularly crossing the state frontier at different occasions. For the Bulgarian Turks
who returned back soon after the resettlement wave, the term “resettler” does not bear special
relevance for the personal biography and is merely a life episode that has been closed up with
their return to Bulgaria. The viewpoint is very different for those who settled permanently in
Turkey, for whom the position of resettlers was accompanied in the beginning by expectations
of due reaction, economic or social support of the Turkish state, and – later on – was a point of
overcoming and avoiding with the purpose of attaining better in the Turkish society. For many
resettlers, the events of late 1980s appeared, however, only one of the first steps in subsequent
numerous occasions of crossing the border in different directions – both because of the enhanced
possibilities for labor migration in other countries of Europe (which actually turned many of the
18 See Isaacs 1997, Hartog 2003, Conway 1997.
19 A conversation with S. Ch. (born 1933) – Karamantsi, 7 May 2011.
20 A conversation with G.Т. (28 years of age, from Haskovo) – Karamantsi, 7 May 2011.