Page 76 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
Although the ‘homecoming’ of the descendants to the border areas such as Strandzha is
similar to the excursions organised by other Thracian associations, this act of border crossing is also
an act of investment in social capital. The mediators between the totally unfamiliar ‘homecomers’
and those accommodated in the Bulgarian houses were the out-migrants from Bulgaria and the
Balkans.
The most popular projects are those seeking collaboration in sports or aiming at the shared
awareness and appreciation of Thracian culture on either side of the Bulgarian-Turkish border:
folklore, cuisine, or style of life. These projects predominantly involve children from Tsarevo and
Pınarhissar and their activities remain within the framework of their respective schools and the
outreach activities organised by those schools; the programmes for pupils’mobility are exchange
programmes, in which Turkish children stay with Bulgarian families and vice versa; as a result,
some of these contacts are maintained after the actual visit, either by using the internet or by
making private trips later on.
At municipality level, there is the project for transborder collaboration on building a
Thracian settlement that would represent the style of life in the Strandzha region, as a follow-up
of the
Representing the Life Style of the Strandzha Region
project.
Although the goals of suchprojects are for people onboth sides of theborder toget to know
each other as they share a territory with its own history, the dominant tendency is for Bulgarian
citizens to cross the border. Because of the visas required in order to cross the border, this getting
to know each other is hardly mutual: the Bulgarians visit the birthplaces of their forefathers
30
or
travel as tourists, they meet the locals, who occupy the villages and towns on the other side of the
border, but those local people
31
do not know anything about life on the Bulgarian side.
32
3. The Towns
3.1. The Case of Edirne
‘Discovering’ those other out-migrants ‘like us’ – the biographical experience of people
close to the border
As the research project was predominantly concerned with the group of the Turks, out-
migrants fromBulgaria, theother twogroupsofmigrants fromBulgaria, theRomaand theBulgarian
Muslims, remained out of focus. The images constructed in the narrative of an interlocutor of ours
are important for the contextualisation of the Edirne fieldwork as a place of migrants because
the settler ‘discovers’ his own others by means of a biographical appropriation of urban spaces.
30 Apart from the excursions to the birthplaces of the forefathers organised by the Thracian Association, by
individual families, or by the Union of Thracian associations, such an excursion was arranged by the mayor of Tsarevo
in 2009 and it was attended by photo reporters. The goal was to photograph the Bulgarian sites in the villages and
towns on the Turkish side of the Strandzha region, i.e. the birthplaces of the ancestors of today’s residents of Tsarevo,
Ahtopol, Sinemorets, as well as the villages Borodilovo, Rezovo, Varvara, Lozenets, Velika, and Fazanovo. For more
details, see http://www.bulphoto.com/events/19237/. Date of access: 7
th
June 2012.
31 In the villages occupied by Bulgarians, once the exchange of population took place, it was Muslims from
the Balkan peninsula that settled there: from Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, etc., along with families from the interior
of Turkey. They remember that Bulgarians lived there once but due to the many years of political dividedness of the
territory they do not know their neighbours on the other side of the border.
32 In 2012 the visa requirement has been waived for some of the Turkish citizens with special passports.