Page 77 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
In his story, Roma appear in a couple of contexts: an institutional context, as the object of an
agreement between Bulgaria and Turkey for resettling and the related housing policies, and a
personal context of discovering the ‘other’migrants ‘like us’ in everyday life on the grounds of their
language.
I would like to offer you quotations from H.Ch.’s narrative as they perfectly illustrate the
sensitivity towards the otherness of migrants fromBulgaria.What are themechanisms of acquiring
the local knowledge of ‘us’ and ‘the others’, of settlers and locals, of the distinction between the
newcomers from Anatolia and the Kurds, who remain alien to the town, unlike the settlers from
the Balkan Peninsula, who seem to have non-foreign status, is a question that steers us towards
researching the world of everyday life in a situation of cultural change and adaptation. Knowledge
about the ‘other’migrants ‘like us’has different levels depending on the specific urban habitus that
migrants acquire through biographical appropriation of the town. The position of our interlocutor
is the position of the borderer, because he is both an immigrant as he refers to himself and a
municipal clerk.
Roma in Edirne
Well, in Turkey most Roma are in Edirne... And you know why? ... According to those
resettling agreements from 1956 and 1972, the Bulgarian government sent Roma instead of
Turks. The Turkish government wanted to send themback but they did not want to go back and
they stayed... entire camps of them. And then seven villages or some such figure remained...
And, let me tell you, they all speak Bulgarian. From Stara Zagora... yes, from the Yambol region
and he Stara Zagora region... When I came here I used to live close to the Gypsy area, I was
renting a place. The old gypsies, they all speak Bulgarian... I forgot that the Gypsies were out-
migrants too; later they found out we were out-migrants as well... We were all out-migrants
from Bulgaria in our block of flats. That person from Germany built a five-storey house and let
the flats in it, and then we arrived and we were all out-migrants from Bulgaria in there.
The ‘other’ migrants ‘like us’ – the Bulgarian Muslims
There are entire Tartar villages. Tatarli, yes, and the village is called Tartarlar. There are
migrants from Sredna Arda, Kirdzhali region. There are only Bulgarian Muslims here, no one
Turkish. Musa beğli. Here, just a step away, on the way to Lozengrad
33
as we call it in Bulgarian
(), on the way to Sredets, there it is. When you go there you get such a warmwelcome, right?...
and the old people do not know any Turkish... Now it’s all different, everybody speaks it, but
they speak the language of Bulgarian Muslims, they call it. We understand them but it’s Old
Bulgarian, very old.
When they settle in Edirne, the migrants face the diversity of the groups from the Balkan
Peninsula, both in the space of everyday life and in festive life. In this case they recognise each
other by means of the language, which is often used as a secret language amongst out-migrants
33 Lozengrad is the Bulgarian name for Turkish Kırklareli.