Page 22 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
settlers and their better life “here and now” as compared to “there and then”. In such instances we
clearly see the ambivalence entailed in the categories attributed to the re-settlers from 1989 – as
“ethically akin”, but not entirely “of our own” (because based on certain criteria they are equated
to in-migrants from the underdeveloped regions of the country while they are often ethnically
different) by the power structures and official discourses, as“different”and at times even“opposite”
at the level of local communities and media discourses.
Another examplewill showus anotherwayof readingthevery samecriteria for classification.
The example comes from the town Edirne which offers a different context for the realization of re-
settlers as compared to that of Izmir. Edirne is a much smaller town, in certain ways its population
is far more homogenous (there isn’t much internal migration from other regions in Turkey). It is
close to the border and is located in the European part of the country (which is associated with a
different lifestyle). Its business orientation is towards Bulgaria. The re-settlers are fewer in number
here and are at present evenly and well adapted in the city space. In public, the attitude of the
locals to them is rather positive. Some of the basic points of differentiation and opposition here
are not as pronounced – for instance, with regard to women and religion. Undoubtedly, what
has a bearing here is the higher educational capital and professional qualification both of the re-
settlers and of the local Turks we interviewed.
6
Among themigrants’associations in Edirnewe didnot see evidence of a tendency to classify
the re-settlers from Bulgaria into a general category along the lines of “Balkan Turks”. We saw a
more direct relationship between these associations and state or local authorities. The re-settlers
who have positions in the municipality and are at the same time activists in the local migrant
association successfully mediate between the two organizational structures. We also registered
a higher degree of joint participation between re-settlers from Bulgaria and local Turks in civic
initiatives. The latter is due not only to the particularities of the town but also to the timeframe
in which our observations were conducted – seven years after the field work in Izmir and twenty
years after that mass migration wave. This is a sufficient time period for a whole generation to
settle in the new environment and for the subsequent generation to establish its own paths of
social realization (See Zlatkova and Penkova 2011).
When we were in Edirne, there also emerged a parallel between gypsies and re-settlers but
in a different light. It turned out that in the initial years of settling in Turkey the women re-settlers
competedwith local gypsy women in the same sphere of the labour market – that of housekeepers
and babysitters. According to the local women Turks, the women from Bulgaria quickly replaced
6 Still the points of divergence remain. The employed women are not subject to criticism or differentiation in
the local context of middle and upper-middle class but the attachments to different “gender regimes” are obvious. A
member of the local elite, herself a business lady, explained that her only criticism to those who came from Bulgaria
in 1989 was precisely what she called the “reversed” role of women: they had the active even the leading role in the
family, they always imposed their opinion, theymade the decisions and their choices often on the basis of materialistic
interests. They were far from the image of the good understanding and supportive wife who was a reliable partner
to her husband without imposing her views on him – all of which clearly spoke of aspects of the model for gender
relations that my interlocutor subscribed to. Of course, she didn’t take into account when outlining this possibly
accurate portrait the role of a number of factors which had a bearing on the situation of re-settlers – that financial
needs were quite possibly a major concern for them at least in the initial years after migrating and influenced their
behavioral strategies; as well as the consideration that in Edirne it was easier for women to find jobs and they were the
ones who supported the family at the beginning.