Page 84 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
The locals can still recognise the settlers by their determination to build their own homes.
The most frequent version of a biographical strategy after moving to Turkey, told by the migrants
in Bulgaria as well as by the locals, who discuss them, is that all the members of the family would
get jobs and would quickly earn enough to buy off their first flat, following which they would
invest into a cooperation for a second and a third property.
The principle of cooperation in constructing houses is widely spread in Turkey: several
families gather the capital to hire a company that would construct the building. Unlike other
places in the country with large residential areas populated by settlers (e.g. Bursa, Izmir, Istanbul,
etc.), the migrants in Edirne do not necessarily cooperate with other migrants; thus, most families
are presently dislocated in different buildings in the new part of town. As Edirne seems to attract
migrants with education and qualifications, the settlers from Bulgaria find themselves among
the middle classes of Turkish society, spatially situated in the prestigious areas of town. Our
interviewees shared that they would choose their neighbours, local people, depending on the
architectural project they find most attractive and on the possibility to join in, rather than wait for
suitable circumstances with a number of families to begin their own project.
For the time being there is no tendency in Edirne for the settlers to keep up a social network
by maintaining spatial proximity in the residential areas. The flats in the ‘settlers’ housing’, which
were their homes in the first years after immigrating and which they bought off, were later sold or
else offered to the elder members of the family (their parents); occasionally they are being let to
the lower strata of Turkish society.
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More than twenty years after 1989, the mental cartography of Edirne keeps the memory
of the last large-scale emigration of people from Bulgarian and the Balkan Peninsula because of
their identification with one of the residential areas, ‘the neighbourhood of the re-settlers’. For
most people in the neighbourhood, life there has been life in a social community and a way of
integrating into a new society because the most intimate links are those with the neighbours. The
children would go to the local school
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and in this way their parents would interact with the families
of other children in the neighbourhood, an important mechanismof integration in the host society.
The spatial proximity of the families of migrants in the first years after settling there gave
rise to specific forms of community that made them recognisable for the local Turks as ‘others’.
Sometimes they speak in Bulgarian to each other, which gives the impression that they want to
differentiate themselves from local people. These aspects of the social and cultural construction
of urban space on the part of the migrants are absorbing and very well researched. Our aim was
to observe to what an extent the second generation (the children of out-migrants) and the third
generation (their grand-children) consider the links with Bulgaria a cultural and symbolic capital
they could use in the new society as educational strategies and life choices.
47 “Now, most people, who live here, cannot pay high rent. These are people, who fall within the poverty
bracket. Those, who work and are good people, they have 1, 2 or 3 houses of that type. The settlers let those flats.
They own them but their families do not live there. They let them to those people...”Out of an interview with R. K., the
headmaster of a school in the neighbourhood, taken in April 2010.
48 Generally, the parents’ choice of school is limited by their address. They can choose the closest state school or
a private school but the fees for private schools are very high and it is very difficult for newly arrived migrants to afford
them.