Page 68 - MIGRATION

Basic HTML Version

66
MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
of which are expressed by means of the border. In order to research spatial dimensions, we need to
establish the territories of circulating shared and mutually accepted capital, as well as the modes
of its transformation (e.g. converting cultural into economic or social into political capital) and
deployment in setting up networks. It is these forms of gift exchange that overcome the divide or
encapsulate the differences through a ‘struggle’ for the heritage to be accepted or rejected, while
the descendants appropriate spaces and make them meaningful.
Assuming that all cities and towns are projections of the respective society and its values,
we could begin by asking in what ways the Turkish and the Bulgarian societies “imagine”
2
their
models of determining identity and how these are related to inhabiting and constructing urban
space. As this is too broad an issue and implies a different type of research, the context needs to
be narrowed down to a few examples of crossing the border with the footnote that two types of
migrants have constructed the town: the people who have settled here and those who moved out
but have been returning by the agency of their descendants.
In a larger sense, this hypothesis begs a few more interesting questions. How does Turkish
society shape Edirne with the help of town-planning and the politics of constructing memory and
how does Bulgarian society “imagine” this town in today’s reminiscences about the wars or about
“Thracian Bulgarians”? How do the flows of tourists in the last decade or two make these places of
collective memory their own?
3
On the other hand, it is intriguing to uncover how at the beginning
of the twenty-first century the town of Tsarevo remembers and inherits (or does not remember
and does not inherit) the town of refugees, Vasiliko, from the beginning of the twentieth century,
how the descendants have made the town and mountain spaces their own and in what ways
they experience the border. Although Tsarevo is only 30 km away from the border, there is no
checkpoint to accommodate travellers;
4
by contrast, the border can be crossed about 20 km away
from Edirne.
The comparative urban development approach would not be consistently applied in the
text because it implies a dominating perspective of two national communities and a territorialized
idea of the state, a type of analysis that belongs to a study of a different order. The memorials, the
sites and the rituals ‘officilize’ the memories of various groups and communities that at different
times have had a dominating position in the town and have, therefore, warranted symbolic
struggles and power potential for making identities legitimate. The constant cooperation between
symbols, communities and town spaces in the nation state has been contracted to the analytical
figure of the town that
remembers
“top-down” through the practices of ritualising the memory
validated by the official discourse and
forgets
“bottom-up” through resistance, mockery and
2 After Benedict Anderson’s model of “imagined communities” (Anderson 1983).
3 There is a substantial corpus of research materials and interpretations on collective memory and the sites
of memory, as well as on rewriting history. The authors, who postulate the tradition in this intellectual field of
Contemporary history and define the terms we now use, are Maurice Halbwachs (1980) and Pierre Nora (1978, 2004).
4 The mouth of the Rezovo River is the farthest boundary of Bulgarian territory. Although the village of Rezovo
is on the border, there is no border checkpoint there. The nearest checkpoint is at Malko Tarnovo, some 50 km away
from Tsarevo.