Page 91 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
folk songs and recovering the roots of their Thracian heritage. Sixteen years old, Konstantin ‘went
into the fire’ in the village of Bulgari and was proclaimed the youngest fire-dancer in Strandzha.
He went through both social and spiritual initiation: Zlatka Stavreva, his teacher, baptised him
and became his spiritual guide. Soon after his religious initiation, still under aged, he became
the youngest member of the church committee in the village of Brodilovo, organised the young
people, helped with the renovation of the church and the chapels [Gr.
Παρεκκλήσιο
] around the
village, and organised the traditional for the district celebrations of Christian saints.
While the older generations of descendants can sell the Charon house of their grandparents
and convert the symbolic capital into economic capital, for the 16-20 year-olds, being members
of the association is a form of investment in social capital. To their parents, this type of continuity
means an increase of symbolic capital. Most members of the association (around 40 in the year
2010) take part in a folk group, either affiliated to the Tsarevo culture house or self-taught. As the
members of the association are at the same time the children of Tsarevo, the local government and
the residents take part in their initiatives and assist in their charity projects. The mayor lets them
have a bus for their planned excursions to Petrova niva, to Edirne and the surrounding villages, or
to other parts of Bulgaria. By the year 2011, the situation with the Youth association of Thracian
Bulgarians has evolved. Most of its members, along with Kostadin Mihaylov, the chairperson
himself, have already graduated and gone to university, but there is no younger generation to
take up their places in the organisation.
In 2009, the town of Primorsko founded the
St George the Victor
association of Thracian
Bulgarians with a chairperson Luba Zheleva, a young person, who had directed her energy to
bequeathing the Thracian heritage to the youngest, the children of Primorsko. She ‘teaches them
patriotism’ by playing: they make bread, dress dolls in Thracian costumes, craft jewellery like
their grandmothers’, arrange ethnographic exhibitions, etc. In these activities, parents get taught
along with their children – young people, often the descendants of Thracian refugees or, if not,
enthusiastic enough about their children taking part in such initiatives. One of the important
events organised by the Association was the unveiling of a memorial plaque of Georgi Kondolov
in the seaside park in connection with honouring the anniversary of the Ilinden Uprising.
The newly elected young chairpersons of the Thracian associations
59
in the district we have
been researching ‘re-discover’ the Thracian heritage but rather as something forgotten, which
has to be recovered, reconstructed and bequeathed as memory. Therefore, the initiatives that the
young people take up are related to creating a community in town, taking part in urban culture,
acquiring significance through the symbolic capital of heritage. As their activities are based on the
principle of projects and networks, rather than on an organisation with national structures, they
exist because of their leaders.
59 A similar change of generations is a fact with the
Exarch Antim I
Thracian association in Burgas; the new
chairman there, Lazar Nalbantov, is a young folk singer and a historian, and recently the director of the Historical
museum in Malko Tarnovo.