Page 72 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
fraction of the population which has newly arrived from the interior of the country occupies the
town centre where living conditions are not very good; in the meantime, the residents of Edirne
have been moving towards the New town built on former arable ground, neighbourhoods with
no history, with no multi-layered town palimpsest, but still capable of reflecting the values of the
new society, i.e. middle-class workers, clerks, teachers, and intellectuals. Another fraction of the
migrants, from Turkey and from the Balkans, Bulgaria included, settle in the town periphery.
Edirne, the border and project culture: constructing heritage
If we change our vantage point and consider the town from the border, the hypothesis
that the status of Edirne has been changing becomes viable: from the point of view of managing
the cultural and historical heritage, the town is becoming less of a peripheral, with reference to
the capital, settlement, which has been preoccupied with activities of localisation
16
and crossing
the border, and more of a place expressive of its own specific locality through project activities
validating the national and Ottoman cultural and historical heritage while relying on universal
values. Themost significant current project is the candidacy of the Selimiyemosque to be included
in the World heritage list of UNESCO.
The issue of the three states constructing their share of the Thracian heritage and the
meanings invested in it from the point of view of regionalisation and the reconstruction of the
symbolic historical territory, Thrace, is most intriguing.
17
Due to the Bulgarian sensitivity to the
difference between the types of heritage and their legitimate heirs, constructed by such cultural
capital, there is a distinction between ancient Thracians and contemporary Thracians expressed
by the two words used to denote them (
traki
and
trakiytsi
); this distinction has been blurred in
everyday speech in contemporary Turkey despite the fact that the language keeps the different
meanings.
18
Margarita Dobreva refers to this interweaving of ancient and contemporary Thracians,
a form of historical and regional identification, in the accounts of Edirne in Turkish (Dobreva 2012).
On the occasion of the centenary of the Balkan wars, a project for the construction of a
tower has been developed; the tower is meant to be close to the border between the three states
and high enough to allow a view of the entire territory of Thrace. In order to give a sense of the
initiative, here is an excerpt from the interviewwith H.Ch., an out-migrant fromBulgaria and a clerk
at the municipality of Edirne, who works on projects about the cultural and historical heritage and
transborder collaboration:
16 One of the ideas for town development relies on Edirne, which has been the historical centre of the Thrace
region, resuming its status with the help of numerous projects; one project in particular has adopted the goal of
opening a tax-free mall on an island on the Maritsa river, another one is centred around the Thrace Euroregion, still
another one is focused on the Strandzha Euroregion, and so on and so forth.
17 Detailed projects for the reconstruction of the cultural and historical heritage, i.e. Thracian houses meant to
exemplify the style of life of the Thracians, are being developed in the Tsarevo municipality. Irena Bokova has analysed
some of the projects related to the Thrace region in the Greek municipalities by the border (Bokova 2012).
18 In the Turkish language there is a word for the Thracians of ancient times (traklar) and Thracians as the
regional belonging of the contemporary population in the region (trakylilar). For more details, see http://tdkterim.
gov.tr/bts/