Page 187 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
2.5. Images of Bulgaria and Bulgarians – do we know our neighbours? – the border
perspective
Part of the cultural capital of the children from the second generationwho live in the border
regions connected with Bulgaria is related to the knowledge of the ‘other’. This is why our research
from the ‘other (Turkish)’ side of the border focused on explicating stereotypical knowledge of
Bulgaria and Bulgarians employing the method of mental mapping. Mapping Edirne through
the ‘places’ and the practices of inhabiting them, we wanted to establish whether Bulgarians are
better known as tourists visiting the city or simply as ‘neighbours’. The Turkish students in the
course in Bulgarian language
16
(among whom there were no children of out-migrants in 2010 and
2011) respond in a ‘standard’ manner because they themselves are foreign to the town and are
getting to know Edirne via its public spaces and central city topoi. These places are legitimated
as the city’s heritage and/or are part of the national narrative of Turkey – museums, monuments,
places of memory, etc. Most of the students say that they do not practice the Bulgarian language
outside the university and that the knowledge they receive about Bulgaria and Bulgarian culture
is something which is ‘required’ and achieved through the efforts of the Bulgarian cultural and
information centre at the university. The other responses related to the most frequently visited
places by Bulgarian tourists (Selimiye mosque and Bulgarian churches in Edirne) are part of that
‘knowledge’– recognizing your own and the foreign through the importance of the religious which
is transformed into a monument of cultural heritage.
17
The students in the course in Bulgarian
language visit the St George and Saints Konstantin and Elena churches in an organized manner,
guided by their tutors during major religious and Bulgarian national holidays.
The responses from the children of migrants from Bulgaria present an interesting case.
Most of them, just like their counterparts, are not from Edirne originally, but they have real life
experience connected with Bulgaria – they visit Bulgaria, they even indicate that they practice
the Bulgarian language. They choose the same places as representative of the image of Bulgaria
and Bulgarians or vice versa. They choose them also as the most frequently visited by Bulgarian
tourists places which are relevant Turkish national history topoi and sites of memory. The border
and the checkpoint Kapıkiule and Kapitan Andreevo are stable images in their responses though.
This experience of crossing the border does not appear in the responses of students with single
citizenship because even if most of them study Bulgarian, they indicate that they haven’t been to
Bulgaria yet. The visa arrangements in place limit the access for these students, which is not the
case for their peers who freely cross the border in both directions.
With the second generation of out-migrants to Turkey, the image of Bulgaria is associated
with the border, with the
state
– Bulgarian and Turkish (museums, consulate, churches), but not
with
birthplace
or a place where they had spent half their lives and a place to which they would
like to
return
after retirement (as with the generation of their parents).
In other words, for the young generation – the children of migrants – the important life
16 Students who have already been admitted to study in Bulgarian universities and who at that junction were
enrolled in their preparatory year at the University of Thrace in Edirne.
17 The so-called Bulgarian churches – Saint George and Saints Konstantin and Elena have been restored as
cultural monuments.