Page 90 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
well as the Burgas district, do not include the Thracian associations in the non-governmental sector,
nor do their calendars of cultural events mention the events organised by those associations.
The expression of ‘Thracianness’ as a recollection, rituals of memorialisation, celebrations
in the ritualistic form established by the Union of Thracian Bulgarians, or keeping the tradition
of commemorating important dates at the sites of memory, monuments and places for the local
community in Tsarevo, are no longer recognised as different from the town events. What is more,
under the initiative of the previous long-time chairperson of the Thracian association in town,
Veska Yanakieva, there have been attempts to combine the fest at Petrova niva with the town fest
in Tsarevo and thus emphasise the role of the town for the community of Thracian Bulgarians; i.e.
Tsarevo was expected to express its urban identity explicitly through the layer of those who had
migrated towards the majority.
Youth associations of Thracian Bulgarians – institutionalising heritage. The ‘newyoung’
and their strategies and networks
As the re-settlement of the Thracian Bulgarians in the Burgas district took place about a
century ago, at present there are a fourth and a fifth generation in the towns and villages there
and these are the predominant category of people in the region. At the beginning of the twenty-
first century, the younger generation
58
seems interested in re-discovering their heritage, going
back to their roots, and restoring the symbolic connection with their ancestors. This late-modern
reaction, which is an attempt to secure identity and significance drawing on heritage as a cultural
capital, is re-categorized by the intensive flow of tourists towards our southern Black-sea coast and
by the acquisition of properties there on the part of foreigners or Bulgarians from other parts of
the country. It seems that the ‘Thracian heritage’ as a source of constructing local identity among
the youngest is an attempt to get integrated in the new economic circumstances, to acquire local
significance, and to gain legitimate status in order to take part in the various network exchanges of
capital. These attempts are made with the help of the established forms of organisations, events,
and social network gift exchange. It is not accidental that in recent years the issue of ‘locality’
gained a greater significance in the districts by the sea. As the locals have already organised their
social networks, the newcomers, usually registered as voters immediately prior to elections, have
no access to the resources of the community. The symbolic capital, the heritage that validates the
‘locality’, can be converted into economic and political capital only by actors, who are legitimate
in those networks and who have taken part in numerous gift exchange practices.
To us, an important emphasis in our research on the strategies of handing over the Thracian
heritage at a local level was the Youth association of Thracian Bulgarians founded in 2008 in the
image of the association in Burgas. The first chairperson, Kostadin Mihaylov, then a student at
the School of Music in Burgas, joined the youth association in town. Kostadin was born in the
village of Brodilovo and went to school in Tsarevo; it was in Tsarevo that Zlatka Stavreva, a singer
of Strandzha folklore and a pedagogue, discerned his talent and guided him towards performing
58 The positions that the new chairpersons have in the local networks are only a type of biographical strategy.
For a detailed analysis of these cases, see Penkova 2012a.