Page 81 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
– M.Z.’s note]. They told her, ‘the pasha wants to build a big mosque here’. She replied, ‘Look at
those beautiful tulips here. How am I to give them up?’ ... Quite a problem. Hence, tulips. That
is, Sinan, tulips, and an old woman. Up there we’ve got another monument of the old woman.
There [in the new neighbourhood, Şükrü Paşa –M.Z.’s note] there is a park with a water feature
or something...
Apart from appropriating the symbolic forms and mechanisms of collective memory, town
space could be made one’s own through the individual experiences of the residents, an inevitable
component of socialisation and training for citizenship.
39
The objectives of administrating town
space via a range of policies do not include drawing up boundaries; the local government is rather
concerned with giving different cultures the chance to interact in the physical space of the town
and the neighbourhood. Nevertheless, borders are constructed by means of cultural models and
forms of interiorising space, by transferring one’s recollections from one’s place of birth to the new
context.
The new Edirne, built after the 1970s, represents how the modern Turkish society imagines
urban life within the framework of the country. The newly built residential areas, four of them
(
yeni mahalesi
),
40
are structured as middle class neighbourhoods: state officials, clerks, workers,
entrepreneurs and businessmen, intellectuals, most of whom are migrants (whether within the
town itself, in their own country, or from abroad). For a long time Edirne did not offer the coveted
opportunities for large groups of people to settle there because it had no industry that would
provide jobs.
What makes the town ‘significant’ for migrants from the Balkan Peninsula is the proximity
of the border and the number of immigrants amidst whom the newcomers feel non-foreign.
In the opinion of most of our interlocutors, virtually everyone of the residents of Edirne has a
recollection of their forefathers settling there. From the perspective of mobile people, we could
see the ambivalence of Edirne as a town on the border. On the one hand, it is perceived as a small
town and people have the subjective awareness of a standstill and fewer chances for a ‘good life’
compared to the interior of the country. In this sense, the border is a limit and an end, impassable
because of the visa regulations, on the other side of it an unfamiliar country with a different
culture. On the other hand, for the migrants this is also the coveted border, close to their place of
birth and their parents and relatives, whom they like visiting. From such a perspective, with the
new political situation and the greater permeability of the border, Edirne has become a town of
arrivals and departures.
39 On some forms of training for citizenship in a Bulgarian context, through making new town space one’s own,
see Zlatkova 2003.
40 The so called new neighbourhoods, or the New Edirne, include Fatih, Mimar Sinan Paşa, Murad, and Şükrü
Paşa. As the population of Fatih, the oldest, and Şükrü Paşa, the most recent residential area, have become too many,
they might soon split into two. They are situated between the D100 and TEM [the big motor roads close by] and the
area in between could be utilised for another four neighbourhoods.