Page 176 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
THE CHILDREN OF MIGRANTS: CULTURAL
INHERITANCE STRATEGIES AND TYPES OF CROSSING
THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
Meglena Zlatkova, Stoyka Penkova
1. The study: positioning and methods
Anthropologists and sociologists involved in field research in trans-border migrant regions
at the beginning of the 21 century are faced with many and multifaceted challenges. Every
researcher approaches her project with a range of questions and preliminary dispositions which
present but a small and often one-sided view on the life of mobile people or the so-called new
nomads. As the project unfolds a number of hypotheses collapse, while the results yielded are
always much richer than our initial dispositions and ideas. The reflexive position of the social
scientist in late modernity calls for transforming the familiar and banal into unfamiliar, since the
boundaries between local and global, and by extension self and other, have become fuzzier and
global culture is ‘our culture’. The present chapter offers a particular point of view on the issue of
migration and attempts to articulate questions, approaches and interpretations rather than offer
a diagnosis about the “communities of mobile people”.
Border-crossing as well as individual or collective movements of people raise interesting
research questions regarding the ways and forms of migration and mobility. When we employ the
term migration however, we reveal a way of thinking which is still framed by (national) territories
and (national) communities. Our study is an attempt to consider again a tense national border, yet
not through the notions of leaving, migration, out-migration, or flight. Instead, our focus is on the
types of border-crossing and the mechanisms of inheriting by the younger generation – the
children of migrants
, in the context of the cultural and political changes in the 21 century. Since
our study falls within the framework of a project aiming at registering the forms of intercultural
interaction of groups and communities which have changed their place of residence, due to a
range of changes in the political environment and the different degrees of porosity on the
Bulgarian-Turkish border,
1
the initial hypotheses for our field work were formulated in the context
of considering the historically different migration waves from the perspective of similarities in
the construction of communities or groups – namely, of the ethnic Turks from Bulgaria who have
moved to Turkey and the ethnic Bulgarians from Eastern Thrace who have settled within the
borders of the Bulgarian state after the Balkan wars. This theoretical and contextual frame and the
dimensions of the Bulgarian-Turkish border in the period 2009-2011 had to be considered from
the perspective of ethnology, folklore studies and ethno-sociology.
Along such lines, we can state that currently there are a number of people residing in
Turkey who possess dual citizenship – Turkish and Bulgarian, people who can freely cross the
1 The project is supported by the National Science Fund and is lead by the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore
Studies with Ethnographic Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Science.