Page 195 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
are always different, you can tell by the way they talk”, “when they come here they are spoiled, they
always complain about the conditions”, “they show off their financial status and local Turks do not
like them at all”. When Bulgarian cousins go to Turkey, one can feel the difference between “Turks
here and Turks there”, “they think of me as a Bulgarian, not a Turk”, “they consider us Bulgarians, we
don’t know what we are”. In the words of one of our female respondents, “they are very different,
different both from Bulgarians and from the Turks there, but we are all Bulgarians there, while here
we are Turks” (from interviews with students in the Plovdiv University branch in Kirdjali).
Why is that the case? Why when they meet relatives they have nothing other than “small
talk” to exchange? Why the differences outnumber the similarities? Because of a lack of
shared
experience
– they all migrated but some of them did it in order to ‘stay’, while others so as to
‘return’ – migration after mobility.
The fact of ‘staying’ does not require a particular reason. Our students who conducted
the semi-structured interviews describe different cases of ‘return’ as shared with them by their
respondents –
the child fell ill
, in which case the family stayed only for 5-6 months in Turkey,
the parents as well as our female respondent do not regret the choice; the
impossibility to
find employment
and the family returns after several months; the family sold their property in
Assenovgrad and migrated in 1989 to settle in Izmir, but after 5-6 months they returned because it
was
impossible to adapt in the foreign social environment
and because
“the Turkish state did not offer
any assistance”
, the respondent shared that with whatever was left money-wise, they could only
afford a village house but they do not regret their decision; in another case, the parents have higher
education diplomas and left in 1989 together with the family of our respondent’s uncle but her
family came back five months later, because her parents could not find suitable employment that
wouldmatch their educational and professional capital. At present the father runs the Community
centre Yumer Lyutvi in Kirdjali and the mother leads a dance group for local Turkish folklore. The
family of another respondent spent two years in Edirne but could not bear it and came back, while
their relatives left and returned after
one day
, because they
did not like the way of life in Turkey
.
Here are some of the shared episodes in the stories told by our respondents with regard to
‘staying’, ‘adapting’ and ‘returning’
I don’t think my place will be there. I am used to living here, there they have other rules,
other laws and the way of life is different.
Everything, her documents too, was ready. She could work for two months before
giving birth and then get a mother’s leave and make their life better, get financial stability.
Because when she starts receiving the payment for mother’s leave, the state provides for you,
and everything would have turned out for the better.
But they just decided not to and
came back here
. I can’t tell you why… They just didn’t like the kind of life there. They were in
Istanbul
(Interview with H. H., Plovdiv).
and socially accepted in Turkey. This is why they continue to think of themselves as “irregular migrants”. Their isolation
from ‘the imagined community’ is even greater than that of the immigrants from 1989 who continue to encounter
acceptance and marginalization simultaneously (On the social status of Bulgarian out-migrants and new migrants
from Bulgaria to Turkey see also Elchinova 2005).