Page 78 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
from Bulgaria. Knowledge and recognition of ‘the others like us’ fit in with local knowledge by
means of which newcomers socialise and inscribe themselves in urban space. The ability to co-
exist with the communities of Bulgarian Muslims and Roma is the cultural capital brought over
from Bulgaria. In the situation of migrants, the Turks, immigrants from Bulgaria, accommodate to
urban space among other things by their choice of places to live. In Edirne, the out-migrants from
Bulgaria recognise each other via their neighbourhood.
Şükrü Paşa – the migrants’ residential area – the residential area of ‘the rich’. Mapping
the location
At our very first fieldwork in Edirne we were told that most migrants from the Balkans and
other settlers in town would occupy the so called ‘settlers’ houses’ (
göçmen evleri
). Edirne has been
changing in the last twenty years exactly because of the border changes: due to a political and
a cultural turn in the context on the Balkans, from a frontier zone at the far end of the country
Edirne turned into a province at the gates of Europe. The interest towards Edirne is no longer
only from abroad, it has now conquered the interior of the country and many choose to dwell in
town and commute to work in the industrialised zones nearby: e.g. the population of Çorlu used
to be 250,000 at the end of the 1980s, now it is more than a million people. Settlers from Bulgaria,
who came with the 1989 wave, predominantly occupy blocks of flats that the Turkish state built
for them in a brand-new residential area in the out-skirts of Edirne. At the time the location was
in the periphery of the town with no completed infrastructure and residential facilities; it was still
a building site. The first 240 families
34
were accommodated in 64 sq.m. flats, which they had the
right to purchase; as it turned out, they could pay off their mortgages fairly quickly.
At the same time, nevertheless, a lot of other settlers made Edirne their home town. Thus,
the Şükrü Paşa neighbourhood turned into one of the most recent and extensively developing
areas with over 25,000 residents. Currently it boasts eight schools, some of the buildings of the
Thracian University, hospitals, a mosque, parks, social communication places, and a lot of shops.
Investors are particularly interested in the construction of residential buildings and the prices of
flats can reach 1,000 levs per sq.m.
35
To summarize the process of constituting this new town space, within 20 years the
building site in the out-skirts of Edirne has turned into a heterogeneous residential area, densely
populated and appropriated by its inhabitants, ecologically planned with its own greenery, and
still developing, a neighbourhood, which has accommodated the coexistence of differences.
Residents could be from the Balkans or from Turkey, from Anatolia or other parts of the country,
and all of them have the chance to celebrate their culture-specific festivals and to express their
cultural identity.
34 The figure is provided by one of our informants, H.Ch., a municipal clerk. According to Konukman, in the
period May 1989 – May 1990, there were 3,768 settlers in Edirne (Konukman, 1990).
35 The data is from an interview with the headmaster of one of the schools in the area in 2010. Under the
Currency Board agreement, signed in 1997, 1 Euro = 1.95583 Bulgarian levs.