Page 17 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
places for any of the re-settlers. That is supplemented by the exclusive for the time opportunity
to leave the country on a tourist visa and to go to the capitalist “heaven” of plenty and free will,
of which they heard from their relations. The presence of relatives in Turkey is of consequence as
well – the exodus seemingly underpinned by panic is also motivated by the thought that there are
people they can reply on initially for shelter, refuge and information. The preservation of kinship
and neighbour connections across the border is also important – not only extended families, but
entire local communities “transfer” and settle in the same place in Turkey (Elchinova 2005: 96-97,
Maeva 2006). Finally, we have to mention the sense of cultural closeness to the people on the
other side as well. Some of the people I talked to even spoke of perpetuated in their families
stories and attitudes of a “return” to Turkey.
All these underpinnings of re-settlement layer the leading element of political repression
and even at the time create a complex image of this life-changing experience across the border.
New interpretations are added later on, stemming from reflections on the subsequent relevant
condition and practices of the re-settlers – hardship and obstructions in the process of adaptation,
successful integration (“measured” in terms of property, education, profession, children, income),
kept ties with the place of birth, plans to settle there after retirement, import of goods/food
and business across the border, political participation, spending holidays, vacations and job
leaves there, maintaining friendships and contacts, visits of relatives. All these contribute to the
accumulation of experience and practices across the border. They enrich the “border culture” of
re-settlers and superimpose on the stories about out-migration and re-settlement, enriching their
initial meaning, sometimes completely changing their focus in view of the current processes,
practices and beacons. The retrospective re-valuation of the past does not necessarily entail the
fading or forgetting of the past; it shows however that this past cannot be thought of without
the interference of subsequent experience, without the consequences and results which at the
moment of the exodus were simply “unknown”.
The experience gains new emphatic meanings in accordance with the situation of the
speaker, their life stage, who the interlocutors are, on which side of the border they are. The
experience is also reconsidered from a different temporal viewpoint. Even if positioned along the
axis and continuity between past, present and future, it can be evaluated from different temporal
positions – “then” (in the sense of before or at the time of migrating, which also means “there”,
beyond the border); “now” (in the present, tied with “here”, but also often with “there” as well, and
even more often with the frequent alternations between “here” and “there”, the stays both “here”
and “there”), “afterwards” (when the fact of out-migration is positioned as a prospect, related to
the future of the speaker and her/his children and grandchildren).
The experience of re-settlement – as a story and evaluation – is individually particular. It
varies according to whether the re-settler deems it successful or not for him/herself and their close
ones, whether s/he would like certain things to have happened differently. It is understandable
if one and the same person considers this experience in different light, even within the span of
one story, depending on which sides of his/her life it is linked with, depending on the ways in
which s/he combines “then” and “now” with “there” and “here”. In a similar manner the re-settlers