Page 86 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
distribution of labour they have inherited from socialist Bulgaria and preserved in their new
circumstances, they are not able to take part in all school-related activities: renovation, producing
different objects for the classrooms, preparing snacks for children’s celebrations, etc. Working
mothers join in with charity money. Very often this is another reason to single them out as ‘the
others’, ‘the Bulgarians’: because they did not integrate well enough in the predominant model (in
the Turkey of the early 1990s) of distribution of space between men and women, with everyday
life and home being female territory, while jobs and money-making belong to men.
As it turns out, when they first settled in Edirne, the integration in women’s neighbourhood
communities was extremely challenging for women out-migrants from Bulgaria because they
were absent from the sites of everyday life. R.K. arrived in Edirne when her first-born son was still a
baby. At the time of the interview in 2010, her son was a student at the University of Plovdiv, who
had earned a fellowship based on merit, and she herself had a job at the Thracian University.
I got a job as soon as we settled here. We arrived in August, in September I started
working for a company that had a nursery there. So I took him to the nursery. I have always
had a job. I suspended my job for a couple of years when my second son was born and then I
resumed it again. I took him to the nursery first, then to the kindergarten, then to school... They
[the children] got used to it as we are used to it in Bulgaria. We are not like the locals. They are
used to having someone around the children at all times. I used to leave them on their own. I
didn’t have my mother: for two years I used to take him to my mother in Bulgaria and I would
leave him there
(from an interview with R.K. in 2010).
Another indicator we could not analyse in details but which appeared in some of our
interviews of mothers with children, who have become students, is joining and maintaining social
networks by means of the so called
gün
’s [days].
50
“Gün means a day and this is the day when women gather in the flat of one of them
to have some food and a drink or two, and to dance; everyone brings the hostess a gold coin.”
F. compared this practice to putting something aside for a rainy day. The equivalent of a gold
coin is 80 Turkish liras. At a gün the hostess could gather 800 liras...
(from fieldwork notes, a
conversation with R.K., F., and A. 2010).
The
gün
is a system of gift exchange and constructing female space and female networks.
When talking to men interviewed in Edirne, it transpired that for the day of the
gün
the husband,
and preferably the children too, have to be away from the family home. A challenge for women
from Bulgaria was joining, through “investment strategies” in social capital, in Bourdieu’s phrase,
that system of gift exchange and the exchange of prestige and symbolic capital. They join the
exchanges
51
with another type of symbolic capital that they have brought fromBulgaria: the status
50 I use the Turkish word because our interlocutors chose to use it in the interviews carried out in Bulgarian.
51 The tradition of researching gift exchanges developed by M. Mauss (Mauss 2007) and Claude Lévi-Strauss.