Page 31 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
MIGRATION, TERRITORIES, HERITAGE:
DISCOURSES AND PRACTICES IN CONSTRUCTING
THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
Valentina Ganeva-Raycheva
Historical viewpoints and frames of analysis
Borders discriminate between spaces, cultures, economic realities, political regimes, or
landscapes. With their help, different centres of power divide territories. Some borders are clearly
defined and function as barriers, i.e. crossing them is to be penalized; others have a weaker
magnetic field (Dichev 2009: 33). Borders highlight the difference between the people, who have
the right to choose (and cross them), and the ones, who do not. In accordance with the changing
historical and political contexts, state borders have different dimensions: a limit of national space,
‘an iron curtain’, heroic space to be defended, a divider between territories, a zone of contact, or
a gateway to the world. Borders are not eternal and history has demonstrated their instability. In
the twenty-first century, in view of the realities of the EU and NATO, inside and outside borders
are being changed and redefined, with the inside borders getting permeable, while we question
the absolute stability of the ones outside.
This text will attempt to highlight the specific socio-cultural construction of the Bulgarian-
Turkish border of nowadays. The analysis privileges the Bulgarian perspective, which is revealed
through the discourses and practices of various institutions (governmental or non-governmental)
and residents of towns and villages on the border. The focus is on the social actors related to one
of the target groups in this project, the descendants of refugees fromEastern andWesternThrace.
My research revolves around the symbolic construction of borders or their symbolic crossing. I
would like to demonstrate how the various discourses and practices reinforce the borders, or
accommodate the acts of utilising, crossing and overcoming them.
Borders are a preferred object of analysis in studies on identity or when defining regions.
Too much of a focus on them, nevertheless, would inevitably turn division and differences into
a governing principle of thinking. Therefore, I would try to outline the region as a supranational
formation, the complex result of the inter-relation of historical periods, traditions and legacies,
which leads us to the metaphorical and material resonance of space (Todorova 2009: 200).
1
This analysis draws upon Balibar’s discussion of borders, which do not seem to disappear
in the age of new cosmopolitanism but rather tend to multiply and are transferred from the
periphery to the centre, as well as on Ulrich Beck’s ideas about “place polygamy,” “globalization
of biography,” “crossing the borders between separate worlds (nations, religions, cultures, skin
1 M. Todorova offers a similar approach to the Balkans and Eastern Europe, as “it allows us to rescue the region
from a debilitating diachronic and spatial ghettoization, and insert it into multifarious cognitive frameworks over
space and time” (Todorova 2009: 202).