Page 152 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
resettlers of the “Revival” process into labor migrants), as well as because of the numerous travels
back to native places in Bulgaria (particularly those near the state frontier with Turkey) and their
participation in different forms of seasonal migration or maintaining family business at the two
sides of the border. In both cases, however (and this is valid also for resettlers living in more distant
regions of Turkey who visit Bulgaria less frequently), there is outlined attention to maintain the
contacts with family and friends living in Bulgaria, as well as the lively interest in contemporary
political, economic, and social processes in their home country.
It is namely because of this fact that the returning visits on the occasion of commemorative
meetings about the “Revival” process have such symbolic importance – as an element of
“reintegration” back to the deserted native place and as an overcoming of the alienation that has
accompanied the members of this community both before and during these events, as well as
later – already as “resettlers, i.e. as “non-locals.”At the same time, the overcoming of this alienation
is largely a matter of illusion. The revisiting of relatives and friends is usually accompanied with
learning about the loss of some of them, with discovering the absence of many friends and
coevals who have left for other places in Bulgaria and Turkey, and with getting aware about the
overall change that has occurred in the places of origin. Yet, if for the witnesses of the assimilation
campaign, the returning visit was a possibility for gaining new awareness about the time that
passed at another place and among other people, for the young generation, it is a launching point
for a new travel, a meeting spot for activating social connections with descendants of resettlers
and for utilizing these contacts for finding a job, starting a business or settling at another town
or village. In such a way, the memory about the events of the late 1980s reveals a notable shift
from the concrete commemorative occasion to the attempt to gather together the dispersed
community and to functionalize the contacts with village inhabitants and their descendants. In
both cases, the memory about those events is extrapolated in the realmof the personal memoir or
family history and it usually steps back under the impact of the developments of the“present day.”
A particularly noticeable input in the cases of remembering and “revisiting” the events of
1980s, and of emphasizing their meaning beyond the passage of time, has been the role of DPS
in organizing ceremonies for commemorating the “Revival” process. This party not only initiated
the carrying out of these commemorative meetings, but also undertook their funding and
organization, and – not least the shaping of their official part. The presence of political figures is
mainly from DPS and the entire scenario of speeches, addresses and historical references is set up
by its representatives. At the background of the on-going processes of personalization of memory
about the repressions on Bulgarian Turks and of its closing up within the personal and family
recollections of the resettlers, the extrapolation of memory in the field of political manifestation is
indeed worth paying attention. The appeals that the events of the 1980s would not be forgotten
and that they should not be forgotten have, of course, their political motivation, but what is more
important is that they have a major contribution to maintaining this memory visible, consolidated
and publicly promoted. From such a perspective, the narrative about the repressions of the
communist regime against the ethnic and religious minorities in the country, about the protests
and their role for the fall of the communist regime, plays an important function for emphasizing