Page 88 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
Even in the narratives about the passages between here and there, between Bulgaria and
Turkey, there seems to be a distinction between the generations of emigrants, visible against
the backdrop of the changes in Turkish society. The emphasis on their own significance usually
comes along the lines of telling themselves apart in self-assessment and constructing the group
when it has to be portrayed in front of others, despite the aspiration, as a biographical strategy, to
achieve full social integration. Magdalena Elchinova has offered the hypothesis that twenty years
later, in the discourse of everyday life, there is a standardised form of narrating re-settling, which
constructs a positive group identity (Elchinova 2012: 21).
4.2. “
Les contradictions de l’héritage
” – strategies for converting heritage into capital
in Tsarevo
Among the social actors that legitimise the descendants institutionally are the local
associations of Thracian Bulgarians in the towns and villages of the target area. Before WW2
the associations are the main forms of a civil society at a local level, which organise the entire
cultural and social life there: the activities of the culture houses (
chitalishta
), the annual fests, the
anniversaries, etc.
After 1944 the associations had a controversial fate as they became part of the political
structures of the socialist society until they reached a point when their functioningwas suspended;
it was only resumed in the 1980s.
It was the fact that the associations were enlisted among the Fatherland Front (
Otechestven
front
) members, a mass organisation politically subordinated to the Communist party, which
blurred their specificity and lessened their influence on the local communities, while appearing
as another form of the political power of the state in the socialist period. The Forest, Shipbuilding,
Fishing, and Consumer cooperations, as well as the Culture house (
Chitalishte
)
53
set up by the
Thracians when they settled in the town, turned Vasiliko into a new type of settlement, Michurin.
54
In the 1990s the associations struggled to find their place in the transforming Bulgarian society
and inconsistently developed as a political organisation, on the one hand, while functioning as
NGO’s, on the other hand, because those were the days of shaping up the structures of the civil
society anew (Penkova 2011).
Our interest in the associations today reflects this reality; they have recovered their
legitimacy but because of the lack of generational continuity are in the process of establishing new
forms of activity such as social networks that would need to mobilise various resources through
the symbolical capital of heritage of Thracian Bulgarians.
Thus, the question of heritage is being researched by means of the repeated conversion of
capital of the newer generations, strategies for converting symbolic into economic capital.
53
Chitalishte Georgi Kondolov – 1912
.
54 The town had the name Vasiliko up to 1934, when it was re-named Tsarevo, a Bulgarian translation of the
Greek name. From 1950 up to 1991 the socialist town was called Michurin, after a famous Soviet biologist. Thereafter,
up to the present, it has been Tsarevo again.