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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
TOWNS CLOSE TO THE BORDER: SPACES OF
MIGRATION AND HERITAGE. THE CASES OF EDIRNE,
TURKEY AND TSAREVO, BULGARIA
Meglena Zlatkova
Towns are the places that welcome newcomers, see off migrants, offer shelter to the
refugees, provide homes to the groups and individuals with settled status, etc. Initially open
and shared in terms of space, a town is a place of strict control, which exists within a state, a
territory, or a region. From such a point of view, a town grants identities, remembers and forgets
depending on the dominating ideologies. Ideologies, on the other hand, establish borders; thus,
towns bring limitations into play, re-write people’s biographies and re-configure their choices in
life, not simply in terms of a place to inhabit but also with reference to a sense of belonging, of
sharing or distinguishing with the help of memory, of accepting or rejecting one’s heritage. It is
the liminality of towns, on the one hand, and the town close to the (national) border that come
into the limelight in this discussion. The text problematizes the acts of crossing, overcoming and
returning across the Bulgarian-Turkish border with regards to two migrant groups: the Bulgarians
fromAegean Thrace, or the so called‘Thracian Bulgarians’, and the Turks who were born in Bulgaria
and resettled in Turkey. From such a perspective, two case studies of a town on the border and
a town close to the border will be discussed here, those are the cases of Edirne and Tsarevo, a
Turkish and a Bulgarian town, which welcome refugees andmigrants of various twentieth-century
migration waves and events; they are not border towns proper and life in them is dominated by
the respective centres of the two states.
There are at least two approaches towards researching a town: through the discourses of
the majority and through the discourses of the minorities. Nevertheless, if placed at the border,
one could see towns as spaces of migration and this was one of the tasks in the
Resettlers and
Migrants on the Two Sides of the Bulgarian-Turkish Border: Heritage, Identity, Cultural Interactions
project. The study of towns and settlements close to the border owes its framework to the
conceptual emphases of the project and the specific interdisciplinarity of its team.
1
This context
determines problematizing the border by means of re-considering the notions of ‘heritage’ and
‘identity’ when delving into migration and town spaces. Heritage is thought of in terms of the
‘heirs’, who make the town spaces their own, while utilizing the two culture models that they have
socialised in, but also in terms of the applications of this heritage in order to construct identities
and shape up the memory of places and events through rituals and practices of recalling. The
specific gift exchange between predecessors and successors validates identities, different aspects
1 The team includes experts in folklore, anthropology, ethnology, ethnomusicology and sociology. The research
outcomes announced in this text draw upon the collective fieldwork and intellectual cooperation of the author with
Stoyka Penkova and Margarita Dobreva, the latter of whom contributed with interpreting and translation, as well as
with her expert opinions on Ottoman history and culture.