Page 47 - MIGRATION

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45
MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
territory.”
32
The leaders have altered the politics of UTSB and have brought to the fore activities, related
to the realisation of wide partnerships (in Bulgaria and abroad), greater publicity, providing
the support of international institutions, central and local government, and reaching a wider
range of political representativeness. The platform of UTSB suggests new forms of work with the
members of the organisation and new forms of attracting supporters. The organisation accepts
public figures, who do not have Thracian roots, if “they have expressed their willingness to work
for the Thracian cause.”
Utilising the Thracian heritage for political purposes determines the type of rhetoric and
actions covering the space of nationalism with its centripetal perspective and drawing the line
between one’s own and the others.
The tributes, the numerous sites of memory, the public expressions of group solidarity,
and the political usage of Thracian heritage make “the excess of memory” explicit (cf. Ricoeur),
arrest thinking into a state of inner stagnation and reinforce the borders.
Crossing the border. Symbolic reconstruction of territories through heritage
The possibilities to cross the border freely after 1990 have offered steps towards
transforming the dividing memories
. They open up fields of symbolic reconstruction of
territories outside the confines of the nation-state, marked by the Bulgarian presence in the past.
I would like to elaborate on two examples, in more detail on the former, while the latter will be
briefly outlined as it has been discussed elsewhere (Rashkova 2012).
The first example is of
Edirne
, a Thracian symbol for several reasons: significant Bulgarian
population up to the first decades of the twentieth century, Bulgarian traces preserved,
conquering the fortress of Edirne, and the liberation of Thrace even if short-lived.
With regard to Edirne, as with most Balkan towns, the historical discourse constructs
official (national) and unofficial narratives, developed by the countries sharing Thrace with their
different emphases. To Greece, the region is the birthplace of renowned Greek scholars and
philosophers. The time of building up the town as Adrianopol is interpreted along with its role
in the Byzantine Empire. The Turkish discourse focuses on the Ottoman period, on the inherited
and contemporary culture (for more details see Dobreva 2012, Zlatkova 2012).
The official Bulgarian narrative goes back to the ancient Thracians; historical evidence and
archaeological data are utilised to prove the presence of Slavic settlements in Eastern Thrace,
indicating that with the arrival of Christianity, the population turned Byzantine. In the First and
the Second Bulgarian Kingdoms, Edirne and the Edirne region were border territories between
32 As a litmus test of the capability of these countries to observe “the standards of the European community”
Turkey is expected to compensate the Bulgarians fromThrace and AsiaMinor for the properties left behind; Macedonia
is expected“to put an end to the encroachments on Bulgarian history and to treat Bulgarians, who live on its territory,
and Bulgaria with the necessary respect;”Serbia is expected“to grant an acceptable status to the Bulgarians inhabiting
its Western territories;” Greece is expected to put an end to the politics of creating artificially a Muslim Bulgarian
nation” (Declaration of good neighbourly relations, understanding and collaboration, 17
th
March 2012).