Page 85 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
In 2010 we had the opportunity to co-experience the festive life of the local school in the
neighbourhood thanks to the then headmaster, R.K., the team of teachers and the representatives
of the parents’ committee. Mainly because parents or elder members of the family still speak
the language of the country they came from, the school offers a stage for the annual children’s
folk festival, in which different folk groups from the Balkan countries take part. A huge number
of children from the Bulgarian folk groups stay with the families of schoolchildren from that
school in order to reduce the shock of crossing the border and to provide a common language of
communication, in this case Bulgarian.
The third generation, the grandchildren of migrants, do not have a direct link with Bulgaria
in terms of life experience or crossing the border (experiencing the border) although many of them
have dual citizenship
,
Turkish and Bulgarian. To them, the birthplace of their parents is a matter of
stories they can remember; it is also symbolic capital they canuse if needed. Fromsuchaperspective,
we could conclude that the spatial borders, of physical (the trajectories of home locations) and
social urban space (the life trajectories of parents) do not exist for the next generations.
The mobile people of today question the ways of considering borders and localities
because they go through different worlds and social spaces and they need to define what is local.
Despite the conventionality of borders, the individual is always in a situation, in which they have
to define the place as a component of their identification.
49
In lieu of a summary, I would offer the
tale of one of our interlocutors in Edirne, E.G., a general practitioner in one of the new residential
areas and the chairperson of the Thrace Association of out-migrants from Bulgaria there.
E.G.: Well, in 1974 I moved to Aytos. I was born in Kirdzhali. A lot of memleket [home
places], as many as you want. If you ask me, I don’t know what to tell you [about my home
place]: Burgas, and Kirdzhali, I studiedmedicine in Varna, I have lived in Silistra, here [in Turkey]
I’ve lived different places too... a lot of memleket. Boris Manchu has a song, when they ask him
where is your memleket [native land], he says, “The world is my memleket”...
Still, I, it might be my temperament, I’m used to the language, my daughter now, you
know that in Facebook they write who comes from where. They specify their memleket. And
she asked me, What shall I write for a memleket? I was born in Ankara, is it what I should put
down? You were born there but you do not come from there, I told her. Is it Edirne then? she
asked. Ok, I said, put down Edirne. But I am from Bulgaria, she claimed, am I not? All right, I
said, put down Bulgaria too. But I can’t include everything, she protested.
Women and the residential area space
Mothers have a key role in the life of the neighbourhood and the school. In the form of
different organisations, women’s associations, or collaborative projects, families (i.e. women and
children) take part in the life of the residential area. There are still many housewives in Turkish
society and our interviewees explained that after settling in Turkey, because of the model of
49 “My father says, ‘Wherever under the sun you wash your clothes, that is your
memleket
[homeland].’” Out of
an interview with B.A., a journalist, a resident of Edirne, a descendant of migrants from Bulgaria.