Page 196 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
The arrangements are very different and in the end more or less it was only my father
who worked nobody else. And he had to provide for six people who were there with him,
including himself, right…Moreover, his father was sick and that was additional burden which
he couldn’t bear and he looked for opportunities to come back and we returned to Bulgaria
(Interview with S. A. resident of Varna, born and raised in Varna, who lived one year in
Istanbul).
These two extremes of experience - of ‘staying’ and of ‘returning’ – lie at the core of the
different strategies for justifying the choice made. As a result of this contradictory experience
there emerge contradictory ideologies which instrumentalize one’s own interpretation of the life
22
of some ‘there’ and others ‘here’.
Those who chose to return regard the out-migrants, those who ‘stayed’ there, as people
“who do not hate Bulgaria, who love and long for it”, who “come to Bulgaria on holidays’, “like the
fresh air and the peaceful atmosphere”, “are very glad when they come to Bulgaria”. On the other
hand, they also think of them as people who “lose their connections with relatives in Bulgaria
and have no interest in Bulgaria”, “keep complaining about stuff – people forget how the started!
Everybody wants more, but our financial situations are very different”, “they consider her foreign,
citizenship which gives them more opportunities to work abroad”.
On the whole, we observe that here the attitude towards those who chose to ‘stay there’ is
rather
negative
: to the children of returnees, the out-migrants are those who come to ‘visit’ once
or twice a year and there is even a special ‘guest room’ kept for them; they ‘boast’ of their financial
situation; they want to ‘cleanse’ themselves from the dirtiness there, to ‘enjoy’ the fresh air and
nature here; they want to ‘
take advantage’
of their Bulgarian citizenship to study or work outside
Bulgaria; they are ‘looking for brides’ for their children because women here are better than those
over there; they are the one’s who have property claims and often enter family disputes with those
who are here on that issue. These
negative dispositions
are part of the strategy for ‘justifying’ the
choice to ‘return’ (which in most cases is the choice of their parents, not theirs).
Let us consider the picture from the other side and the position of those who chose to
‘stay’. The returnees claim that they do not consider they are not accepted by the locals. One of our
respondents in Edirne shares the following view as a memory from the time ‘there’
But as a rule they trusted us. Almost all of them trusted us. They realized we are honest
people, we like to work, that we don’t behave like the locals, say, if it is not my job, then it is not
my job, in other words… there was… You have to show that you understand…
For him the choice was easy:
Had I stayed in Bulgaria, how would I see myself…may be I would have become like
some of my colleagues – no, classmates – as teachers, with 200-300 BGN salaries. I still have
colleagues in Kirdjali I keep in touch. One of themuntil recently drove a Trabant. With 300 BGN,
22 For revisiting the experience of out-migrating in everyday discourses see Elchinova 2012.