Page 32 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
colours, continents, etc.) ... whose oppositions must or may lodge in a single life,”or his assertions
about the arbitrariness of borders that allows us to deal with them freely: to move them or re-
interpret them (Beck 2000: 75). The concept of inventing traditions (Hobsbawm1983), the notions
of the places of memory as a support of collective memory and memory as heritage (Nora), the
elaboration on institutionalising public memory and the role of institutions as determining the
manner of thinking and the classifications of individuals (Douglas), the perception of cultural
heritage as a dynamic phenomenon related to constructing and legitimising values by means of
which the past has been inscribed into the present, and the links between communities, cultures
and territories – all these sources add to the theoretical framework of the study.
2
Can we talk about local population and aliens on the Balkans? The historical development
and the political processes on the Balkan Peninsula in the 19
th
and 20
th
centuries question the
relevance of these notions when a given territory is to be related to certain groups of population
over a relatively extended period of time. The‘road’and‘being on the road’emerge as the relevant
analytical figures when describing and explaining the world of those, who inhabit the Balkans (cf.
Kyosev 2009). The Thrace region is a case in point here;
3
historically, it has been re-shaped more
than once in terms of state borders and ethnic diversity of its population. Nowadays it belongs
to the territories of three states: about a fourth of Thrace, known as Eastern Thrace, is in European
Turkey, about a tenth of it, identifiable asWestern Thrace is in Greece, in the north-eastern corner,
and the rest of it is in Bulgaria, in the south-eastern part of the country.
In the Bulgarian sources, Thrace is described as Northern and Southern, in older times
it was referred to as Upper and Lower Thrace, the border between the two parts being the
watershed ridge of the Rhodope mountain and the Strandzha-Sakar range. The geo-strategic
situation of Southern Thrace is the reason for many conflicts between the countries related to
the Thracian territory (cf. Bokova 2012: 220–221).
In view of the population of this area, the young nation states inherited from the Ottoman
Empire a multi-cultural palette of communities with various ethno-cultural specificity (for more
details on Edirne, see Dobreva 2012). The demographic data from the end of the nineteenth and
beginning of the twentieth centuries attests to the significant number of Bulgarians in Thrace.
4
Due to wars and international agreements, the state borders between Bulgaria, Turkey and
Greece changed several times in the first decades of the twentieth century. The political agendas
2 For more details, see Cerclet 2004, Clemente 2006, Gri 2006, Bokova 2006.
3 Thrace is a geographical and historical area in the South-Eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula of about 42,000
sq. km (Filchev 2007: 9). Geographically, this is the region delimited by the Sredna gora mountain on the north, the
Maritsa river on the west, the Aegean sea on the south, the Black sea on the east, and the Sea of Marmara on the
south-east. Topographically, Thrace is situated amid mountain ranges of different size and deeply cut river valleys. A
broad plateau south of the Rhodopes divides the lowlands of the Maritsa from the plains in the west.
4 The French newspaper
Courrier de l’Orient
,
published in Constantinople, is considered the most reliable
source of information on the ethnic diversity of the population: according to an issue from 1878, there were 190,568
Muslims; 372,476 Bulgarians; 147,984 Greeks; 13,710 Jews; 10,440 Armenians; 2,880 of other ethnicities (qtd. in
Shishkov 1992:107). According to the archives of the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the population of the Edirne
area before the Balkan War consists of 328,028 Turks; 410,724 Bulgarians; 257,317 Bulgarians; 54,028 others (qtd. in
Popov 1930:170-171; Filchev 2007:10–11).