Heritage, Identity, Intercultural Interactions


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2011 | 2010 | 2009



20 March

Scholarly Conference"Cultural Heritage –
Political Stakes and Reconstruction of Territories"



   At the invitation of New Bulgarian University, Smolyan Municipality and the Regional History Museum of Smolyan, members of the project presented papers at the scholarly conference "Cultural Heritage – Political Stakes and Reconstruction of Territories" that took place in Smolyan, 11-13 March, 2011.

   Valentina Ganeva-Raicheva – "Reconstructing Territories through Heritage: The Example of Edirne." The paper drew attention to one aspect of the activity of the Union of Thrace Associations in Bulgaria for constructing a "Thracian"/ Bulgarian heritage and transforming cultural capital. An important strategy of the institutions of Thrace Bulgarians is the preservation of Bulgarian sites outside the political boundaries and Edirne is an indicative example in this respect. The interpretations about the symbolic appropriations of territories remaining outside the borders of the national state, the reaffirmation of heritage through the creation of new practices of remembrance, etc. are based upon observations during the celebrations of Easter and St. George’s Day in the Bulgarian Church of "St. George," during cultural events in "Sts. Constantine and Helena" Church, and on activities for turning these temples into sites of pilgrimage for Bulgarians, as well as into places of intercultural contacts. Attention is paid to the intermediary functions that are played by Muslim resettlers from Bulgaria who reside in this city.

   Natalia Rashkova – "Ritualizing Kin Memory (Visiting the Places of Origin of Refugees from Eastern Thrace)." The paper treats different symbolic aspects of the characteristic attitude to the past, which are part of the personal, family and communal history of the descendants of Thrace refugees from Eastern Thrace, as expressed in visits that they pay to their ancestors’ places of origin. On the basis of interviews, participant observation, visual research documentation, documentary films and written sources, the paper analyzes the need of materializing the kin memory that has been transferred and preserved within the family, of strengthening the awareness about the local identity of Thrace Bulgarians, and of ritualizing key moments during the visits.



   Meglena Zlatkova "Where Standja Kisses the Sea"… "The Contradictions in the Heritage" of Thrace Refugees in Tsarevo." Whose is Strandja Mountain – "our Strandja," where the most ancient true Bulgarians, i.e. the residents of Urgari, live; and "our Strandja" in Turkey, where there were once the homes of most present-day citizens of Tsarevo municipality and the neighboring villages? The contradictions around the space of Strandja as a part of Trakiya region are presented in the paper through different strategies of inheritance and legitimization of identities and communities in the beginning of the 21st century. The contradictory descendants are studied through their occupying of different positions in the network of social actors and their transformation of cultural capital in heritage construction. Several aspects are outlined: the creation of local brands (e.g. fire-walking and the production of the so called "manna-honey"), festivals, projects of trans-border cooperation, ritualizing of memory, such as excursions to ancestors’ native sites, etc.



   Stoyka Penkova – "Contradictions in Heritage": Mechanisms of (Non)Inheriting among the Descendants of Thrace Refugees and the Bulgarian Resettlers in Edirne." The paper undertakes a comparison between the different ways in which heritage is "used" – by descendants of Bulgarian resettlers in Edirne and by the Thrace refugees in Tsarevo and the Strandja region. The presence of official civic association on both sides of the border, as well as of the different ideologies through which legitimacy is ascribed to the so called "strategies of utilizing heritage" make such a comparison possible. Three modalities are outlined in the way, in which "heritage" is used by the two groups: 1) entire reproduction of the tradition and of the heritage accumulated within it; 2) applying "new eyes" to the same heritage that would make possible to see what has previously remained hidden; 3) breaking with it. The paper traces the discursive practice of giving heritage as a "gift": the mechanism of (non)inheriting, the problematic areas, the "trans-fer" of heritage, the privileged viewpoints, etc.



1 February

International Conference "Remaking Borders" in Catania, Sicily



On 20.01-23.01.2011, Dr. Nikolai Vukov presented a paper at the International Conference "Remaking Borders" in Catania, Sicily – organized within the project of EastBordNet, COST Programme of the European Union. The paper was included in the panel "Refashioning the Balkans" and bore the title "Border Making and Cross-border Dynamics along the Tripod-shaped Border between Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece in Eastern Thrace." The presentation was based on fieldwork research that was carried out in Southeast Bulgaria and in Edirne, Turkey, and had as its purpose to outline comparatively the social, economic and cultural processes in border regions in Eastern Thrace throughout the twentieth century. The paper was accepted with great interest and posed an occasion to inform conference participants about the work on our project, as well as to establish contacts with colleagues, working on related topics.



5 January

International Conference "Beyond Essentialisms: Challenges of Anthropology in the 21st Century"


Meglena Zlatkova took part in the international conference "Beyond Essentialisms: Challenges of Anthropology in the 21st Century," on the Occasion of the 70th Anniversary of the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, 25 to 27 November 2010. The paper "The "Returning" of Heirs - Rethinking the Boundaries: Migrations and the Challenges of National Ethnologies in South-Eastern Europe" presents a case study of migration waves between Bulgaria and Turkey from the viewpoint of the current situation and generations. How the boundary and the "home-land" territories are perceived by the heirs, what are the inherited symbols and how they are used by next generations as cultural capital, what are the physical and mental border transgressions? These are some of the research questions that need theoretical reflection. How is it possible to interpret the boundary by moving people of 21 century still in the framework of nation state? Как е възможно да се мисли границата от движещите се хора на ХХІ в. все още в рамката на националната държава? Using the case study within the project "Resettlers and Migrants on the Two Sides of the Bulgarian-Turkish Border: Heritage, Identity, Cultural Interactions," the paper poses questions about the ethnological research on migrations and the possibilities to "cross" beyond essentialism in their understanding.