Page 8 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
us to produce comparable research methodologies. Considering the national border reflectively,
we attempt to cover fleeing, migration, emigration, as well as coming back, returning, all these
in the political and cultural context of the present in the twenty-first century. The political border
predetermines discussing migration in terms of ‘national territories’, ‘national communities’, and
‘national cultures’. The border is researched as symbolic representations and everyday practices, as
time and space, by means of its being crossed: mentally (using the mechanisms of memory and
rituals) and physically in the trajectories of descendants (trips and visits to the native land, searching
archives to trace the properties of forefathers, descendants ‘coming back’ to the place of origin of
their forefathers, etc.).
Cultural heritage
is interpreted as a range of dynamic phenomena, values that are formed,
made legitimate and transformed in different ways in accordance with the changing socio-historical
context. Through inheriting, the past we have evaluated as important to us becomes part of the
present. It can be shared and directed in order to establish links between communities and cultures,
or cultures and territories. The synchronic approach, with a focus on the ways of interpreting cultural
heritage today, is central to this research. The diachronic approach is utilised to provide a more
detailed context of the phenomena to be analysed.
Drawing upon the concept that people’s heritage constructs communities and networks,
and determines collective and individual identities, the team has attempted to discern and analyse
the networks used to exchange (bequeath / inherit) symbolic capital, determine social positioning,
construct formal and informal institutions and spaces that accommodate local, national and
transborder interactions. Bourdieu’s approach to what he calls “contradictions of inheritance” has
proved invaluable in researching some of the aspects of heritage at an institutional and personal
level. The political appropriations of heritage have been of interest too. These observations, however,
are more consistent with reference to Bulgarian reality.
Identity
is defined here as a dynamic and multi-layered structure, which exists in the
subjective-time dimension. It has been researched in various cases of self-representation or
classification by ‘others’
when there has been interaction, tracing the links between existing
stereotypical images and ways of expressing identity in a range of discourses: formal, political,
ideological, everyday, etc.
In their work, the team have employed and applied different methods: observation of
cultural events, everyday life, andways of inhabiting urban space, including participant observation;
in-depth autobiographical interviews, semi-structured and structured interviews; standardised
questionnaires; focus groups; mental maps; ethno-methodological observation; discourse analysis
(political, ideological, of the media, etc.); case studies; the methods of gender studies, etc. It has
been customary to revisit the sites of fieldwork and to repeat the observation of certain events in
order to‘saturate’ the data gathered and provide a reliable database for the purposes of analysis and
representativeness.
At the very start of the project the team joined an international research network of the
COST IS0803
Remaking Eastern Borders in Europe
project, which was an excellent opportunity to
check hypotheses and methodology, or to popularise the results of our research.