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The urban situation in Edirne has had a different story: it used to be the centre of Thrace
and is now a town of mobile population, which stays here, builds up it version of culture and
civilizations and moves on to other symbolic centres. Still, Edirne is also the town that attracts
new migrants because it is part of the Balkans. It is the Balkan resettlers that, to a large extent,
have been constructing its town space in the past twenty years. Every resident reminisces about
parents or grandparents or their parents, who have moved from some place: Bulgaria, Greece, or
the ex-Yugoslavia. Most of the migrations in the 1990s are one-way and related to a permanent
resettlement in town, which entails joining in new social networks and expanding the existing
ones across borders.
The places that the newcomers settled in are newly built residential areas, with no history
or historical accumulation, which made it possible for them to adapt the new culture to the old
one and to provide shared meanings and symbolic forms that would organise life in these town
spaces. Saturating the central areas of Edirne with newmeanings becomes possible after crossing
the border has been eased for the Bulgarian tourists and people on both sides were able to
discover the other, as well as the shared and divided space of Thrace. Still, the town is perceived
as ‘hospitable’ by the new migrants from the Balkan Peninsula because of the possibility to have
them incorporated in the existing social networks and communities, which makes crossing
borders easier.
Even though two different samples of towns, both Edirne and Tsarevo are towns close
to the border, which construct and negotiate spaces of migration that are fluid, yet localised
through urban sites. In the twentieth century, the policies in the two nation states prioritised the
homogenising of the population and the construction of town communities. Opening the border
and allowing the Bulgarian nationals to go toTurkey freelymakes it possible for the descendants to
physically return there and ‘discover Bulgarian sites’ there. What has happened in the past twenty
years is that these two towns close to the border are no longer an ‘end’; they have become a
‘beginning’ and an ‘opportunity’ and have started constructing themselves as territories of capital
exchange and border crossing.
Translated from Bulgarian by Vitana Kostadinova
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