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Transnational social fields : a case study of post-socialist Bulgarian immigrants in Vancouver Gadjalova, Tatiana 2006

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T R A N S N A T I O N A L SOCIAL FIELDS: A C A S E S T U D Y OF POST-SOCIALIST B U L G A R I A N IMMIGRANTS IN V A N C O U V E R  by TATIANA GADJALOVA B A . , The University of British Columbia, 2002  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN T H E PARTIAL F U L F I L L M E N T OF T H E REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E D E G R E E OF M A S T E R OF ARTS  in  T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES  (Anthropology)  T H E UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A May 2006  © Tatiana Gadjalova, 2006  ABSTRACT  In this thesis I present a study o f Bulgarian immigrants who arrived i n Vancouver after the fall o f the 'Iron Curtain' i n 1989. I conducted m y fieldwork from the summer o f 2004 to the fall o f 2005 i n both Bulgaria and i n Canada. Although the study presented me with numerous themes that speak o f a transnational lifestyle, what struck me the most was the need o f the Bulgarian immigrants to create new spaces and locales that reflect and reinforce their true identities, something they can call home. I am searching to clarify how the embodiment o f the so-called transnational identity is lived and how it is taking shape i n the age o f post-socialism. For this purpose I have chosen to focus i n particular on the production o f transnational social spaces i n the case o f the Bulgarian Heritage Language School i n Vancouver. I explore two instances o f the production o f public social space, which relate to transnational Bulgarian ethnicity. The analysis o f these case studies reveals how particular locales are produced b y authorized representatives o f transnational social groups and how at the same time these concrete social spaces reaffirm the authority o f the speakers within their respective habitus. A s proposed by transnational theorists like Peggy Levitt and N i n a G l i c k Schiller, I apply Pierre Bourdieu's theory o f social space, making use o f his concept o f habitus, and complement it with Henri Lefebvre's theory o f the social production o f physical spaces. B y combining these theories i n the analysis o f the two events I am outlining the specific features o f Bulgarian ethnic habitus which is shaped by, but also is continuously shaping, Bulgarian transnational identity.  ii  T A B L E OF CONTENTS  Abstract  ii  Table o f Contents  iii  List o f Figures  iv  Introduction  1  The Identity o f the Fieldworker and Other Stereotypes  3  D o i n g Transnational Fieldwork  4  Numbers and Theories Entangled i n the Fallen Iron Curtain D o i n g Transnational Fieldwork Analysis  8 13  Celebrations o f Bulgarian Culture and M u s i c in Vancouver  20  The collage exhibition "Bulgaria i n M e " Balkan Folklore amid Northwest Coast Totem Poles  21 28  Theoretical Discussion  31  In Conclusion  38  Bibliography  45  iii  LIST OF FIGURES  Figure 1  8  Figure 2  8  Figure 3  38  Figure 4  38  iv  Introduction I do not feel at home here in Canada, I will always be the foreigner, even if it's only for the accent. When we went back to Bulgaria for the holidays I realized for my great regret that I did not feel at home there either. Somehow I became more of an observer. The things that bothered me there before because I depended on them, do not affect me anymore. And so you realize that there is no home for you anywhere, you know, a place where you can say -1 am at home. [Lilly ] 1  Not that they are bad [the Canadians], they are just different. I definitely believe that we live on different building floors. I live in Canada but I don't live with the Canadians... [long pause] There is no base for communication on any other level than the practical issues of dealing with something at work - the contact is just on a professional level. [Perounika] Nowadays [when we go back to Bulgaria] we pick our friends carefully.. .we try to stay in touch with people who do not perceive us as extraterrestrials,... something like: "Don't tell us your problems. You guys are ok there; we are the ones who have a hard life." [Trendafil] I remember people asking me about the events in Kosovo. They inquired about my opinion of how I think the situation will resolve. And I had to present an opinion. It is some kind of identity that I have to perform here quite often, the identity of "the East European".. .1 was bothered by the fact that I had to be "the East European" but then again... First of all, if I don't say anything, people would not know anything. So, at least, I should give my opinion about it. As long as I am able to qualify my opinion as just one point of view about an event over there [in East Europe], I think it should be considered as legitimate. Otherwise, how will people here know what you lived through if you don't present some kind of position? [Trepetlika] The quotes above arefrominterviews with post-socialist Bulgarian immigrant women and men in Vancouver that I conductedfromthe summer of 2004 to the fall of 2005. Each of the quotes touches on themes that are present in almost every conversation among Bulgarians in Vancouver. It would not be fair to say that every Bulgarian immigrant agrees fully with the opinions or emotions expressed above. I, for one, can challenge them with examplesfrommy own experiences, being myself a Bulgarian Vancouverite since 1998. The quotes express mostly a sense offrustrationand inadequacy in situations of social interaction. Nonetheless, they also  1  All of the real names of interviewees are replaced by pseudonyms.  reflect the strategies immigrants draw on, choices they make i n order to integrate not only into the new homeland, Canada, but also into the Bulgarian society i n which they continue to play a role and participate i n from a distance. The feelings revealed i n these comments address the need to create new spaces and locales that reflect and reinforce these individuals' true identities, something they can call home. In the following pages I am exploring such spaces. They are social and mental but also very concrete and physical; I am searching to clarify how the embodiment o f the so-called transnational identity is lived and how it is taking shape i n the age o f post-socialism. In research and analysis o f interviews and fieldnotes I have been able to identify a number o f themes and significant relationships that bear upon this process o f identity formation. For instance, many o f the people I interviewed reflected on their experiences and first encounters with the reality o f Canada, the process o f adaptation and identity formation they underwent i n the very first years, conflicts they encountered inside the family, and crisis situations they faced related to child care and school. M a n y also talked about loneliness and the loss o f the extended family support that they were used to i n Bulgaria. Others discussed how they reconstructed transnational extended family ties when grandparents would come to visit for long periods o f time or when children were sent for long summer vacations to Bulgaria. Bulgarian immigrants often reflect on the stereotypical ways i n which they are perceived i n Canada as w e l l as i n Bulgaria. They express their frustration with the insensitivity they faced i n their new home and when visiting their friends and relatives i n Bulgaria. Either they are the "East Europeans" or they are the immigrants who have nothing to complain about. In both cases they feel like "the other", and this feeling contributes to their loneliness and isolation.  2  These and other issues create the intricate fabric o f what it means to be a Bulgarian transnational person. The present thesis, however, aims for a deeper exploration o f just a few o f these themes and their interconnections. I have chosen to focus i n particular on the production o f transnational social spaces i n the case o f the Bulgarian Heritage Language School i n Vancouver. In the first part o f the thesis I provide an overview o f the methodology I use i n this study and foreground the theory I apply. In the second part I explore two instances o f the production o f public social space, which relate to transnational Bulgarian ethnicity. One is the annual celebration o f the C y r i l l i c alphabet organized by the Bulgarian immigrants i n Vancouver, and the other - at which Bulgarian Vancouverites were present as visitors - was a concert o f Bulgarian folk music at the M u s e u m o f Anthropology, University o f British Columbia. The analysis o f these case studies w i l l reveal how particular locales are produced b y authorized representatives o f transnational social groups and how at the same time these concrete social spaces reaffirm the authority o f the speakers within their respective habitus. A s proposed b y transnational theorists like Peggy Levitt and N i n a G l i c k Schiller, I apply Pierre Bourdieu's theory o f social space, making use o f his concept o f habitus, and complement it with Henri Lefebvre's theory o f the social production o f physical spaces. The combined use o f these theories allows for a better understanding o f the ethnographic material i n terms o f the particular role individuals play i n shaping transnational social spaces. Furthermore, by linking these theories i n the analysis o f the two events I w i l l be able to outline the specific features o f Bulgarian ethnic habitus which is shaped by, but also is continuously shaping, Bulgarian transnational identity.  3  The Identity of the Fieldworker and other Stereotypes According to anthropological conventions that were developed i n colonial times, I might be considered an insider or "native" to the culture I am studying as I am myself a post-socialist Bulgarian immigrant i n Vancouver. However these assumptions have been problematized i n more recent anthropological texts. K i r i n Narayan for example points to the fact that 'native' "anthropologists are perceived as insiders regardless o f their complex backgrounds" (1993:667). She argues that as a result o f class differences or variations within an arbitrarily constructed cultural entity, 'native' researchers can sometimes be more detached from the people they study than so-called outsiders to that group. This terminology also reinforces dichotomies that are o f very little use i n today's world where cultural identities within any given community are i n continuous flux. In the words o f Stuart H a l l , cultural identities come from somewhere, have histories. But like everything which is historical they undergo constant transformation. Far from being eternally fixed i n some essentialized past, they are subject to the continuous "play" o f history, culture and power. Far from being grounded i n a mere "recovery" o f the past, which is waiting to be found, and which, when found, w i l l secure our sense o f ourselves into eternity, identities are the names we give to the different ways we are positioned by and position ourselves within the narratives o f the past. (Narayan 1993:676) I w i l l adopt the words o f K i r i n Narayan and state that I am writing this thesis as a native ethnographer who points out i n her writing the "personal and intellectual dilemmas invoked by the assumption that a 'native' anthropologist can represent an unproblematic and authentic insider's perspective" (1993:672). Thus, the present discussion adopts an autobiographical standpoint o f a person who embodies traits from various cultures; i n particular, I am a researcher entangled i n transnational and post-socialist sociological discourse, as w e l l as a graduate student at the Department o f Anthropology and Sociology at the University o f British Columbia.  4  Doing Transnational Fieldwork This case study is based on a larger project involving participant observation o f many events organized b y the Bulgarian Language Heritage School i n Vancouver. A s a Bulgarian Canadian I communicate most often and most extensively with other Bulgarians i n Vancouver. M a n y o f the opinions and viewpoints that I describe i n the present text have been shared with me informally i n conversations, as it was much easier to talk in a relaxed atmosphere with fellow immigrants and without a cassette recorder. Turning on the recording device often changed the tone o f the conversation by making it more formal; interviewees would sometimes start to reflect on the usefulness o f the information given. O n the other hand these remarks also offered me an opportunity to probe what they saw as the purpose o f such studies. A s the people I have interviewed are mainly university graduates i n the arts or sciences - some have advanced postgraduate degrees - the interpretation o f their own experiences was an interesting and important element i n the development o f m y study. In other instances, the use o f the recording device and the structuring o f the conversation with a set o f questions made the experience much more focused and at the same time more intimate. The research findings presented i n this thesis are mainly based on participant observation in Vancouver and i n two towns i n Bulgaria, as w e l l as on formal semi-directed interviews that lasted one to one and a half hours, and numerous informal conversations. Since 1998 I have been a Bulgarian post-socialist immigrant myself. Inevitably, this document contains some observations and experiences that I have had before the more structured study began. M o s t o f the formal interviews have been conducted with women. In the course o f two years i n Vancouver I have formally interviewed eight women and one man between the ages o f 29 and 50, and engaged i n numerous informal, but in-depth conversations with five men (a total o f fourteen  5  interviewees). A m o n g the men I decided not to use a recording device or note-taking when I noticed that these created tension and resistance. In some cases men would listen to the conversations I had with women and casually make comments and express opinions or share personal experiences. Likewise, since the people who know me and talked with me are thoroughly informed about m y research, they know that I am constantly keeping an ear open for their comments and shared stories for m y thesis. In fact, many informal comments directed toward me were consciously contributed for the purpose o f m y research or were offered without prompting from me. When I started to look for participants for m y interviews i n Bulgaria I did not confine myself to people who have immediate connections or relatives i n Canada or other countries. It turned out, however, that all 13 o f m y interviewees had either relatives or very close friends abroad, including often i n Canada. In Bulgaria I formally interviewed eight women between the ages o f 30 and 50, and I had one formal interview with a man and numerous informal conversations with at least four men. A s i n Canada, I found that the recording device interfered when talking with men about issues o f the socialist past and I did not record or take notes during these conversations; rather I took notes later. A l l o f the men knew very w e l l about m y research and verbally agreed that I could use their reflections. The interviews i n Bulgaria were conducted i n order to better understand the motives for emigration and the types o f connections Bulgarians have with the home country. I also asked questions about how immigrants are represented i n the mass media and what is known about the lives o f Bulgarians abroad. During the interviews I inquired about the lives o f the people i n Bulgaria, what they celebrate, how they feel about their children's education and prospects i n Bulgaria. M y research i n Bulgaria also aimed to look at official policies that discourage or  6  encourage emigration or shape attitudes towards emigrants as valuable members o f their home country. W i t h this i n mind, I also looked at articles i n the Bulgarian press published over two months i n the summer o f 2004. This analysis allowed me to consider to what extent emigration and links to Bulgarian immigrants were also officially encouraged b y the state. The data gathered in Bulgaria is only occasionally used i n the present document; its role was to help me understand the overall transnational social situation i n which Bulgarian immigrants are entangled. To conclude these comments on methodology, I would like to point out that the present text is written with a certain audience i n mind. It is mainly a continuation o f the dialogue I am having with the same group o f Bulgarians I have been interviewing and consulting with i n the past few years o f our immigrant lives i n Vancouver. However, I embarked on writing this study with the hope that I w i l l be able to include i n this dialogue people from outside o f this group, namely people who are interested and sincerely wish to participate i n overcoming stereotypes o f the East European that have prevailed i n North American popular culture from the time o f the C o l d War. Perhaps every researcher runs a risk o f creating new stereotypes when writing a study focused on a particular group of people. Thus, I would like to point out that this research does not claim to portray a single image o f Bulgarian immigrants i n the area o f Vancouver, but only to account for the activities and identity formation o f a group of people who i n one way or another are associated with the Bulgarian Heritage Language School i n Vancouver. I have written this thesis to resemble a collage. Sometimes the reader w i l l not fully comprehend the transition from one section to the next, but I hope b y the end he or she w i l l be able to formulate a coherent picture. I intend this text to appear like the collages called "Bulgaria in M e " which were made by the children i n the Bulgarian Heritage School as part o f an improvised exhibition, and which I w i l l discuss i n detail below (see Figures 1,2 below). The  7  materials used in the illustrated collages include photographs, post cards, a shirt with the label "Made in Bulgaria" and various color crayons. Many images and words in the collages appear as small fragments out of context, observed from afar they seem chaotic and messy. However, on closer inspection and on an intuitive and emotional level they fuse and create the fascinating and rich fabric that reflects part of the identity of each child. Many in the adult audience were moved to tears, tears of joy and laughter, by the work of the children. I hope the present text will likewise communicate to outsiders - including non-immigrant Bulgarians - an understanding of experiences of the post-socialist Bulgarian immigrants in Vancouver. On a largely intuitive level, I also appeal to the emotional intelligence of the kind reader.  Figure 1  Figure 2  Numbers and Theories entangled in the fallen 'Iron Curtain' One of the outcomes of the dramatic political events in the late 1980s in East Europe has been the disintegration of old borders and the installation of new ones. This has contributed to the immigration of a large number of East Europeans to West European countries, the United States, and Canada. Many have settled permanently and have already acquired or are in the  8  process o f acquiring a new citizenship. In 2001 the total number o f persons w i t h Bulgarian ethnic origin for Canada was 15,195, the majority o f w h o m live i n the province o f Ontario (8,805) (Statistics Canada 2001). In the last decade, West Canada, and Vancouver i n particular, has become an attractive place for newcomers from Bulgaria. W h i l e eastern Canada has a much larger population o f Bulgarian immigrants with a considerably longer history, the number o f Bulgarians i n the Vancouver area became significant only after 1990. According to census data, a total o f 7,240 Bulgarians i n Canada aquired immigrant status between the years 1991 and 2001. O f these 680 went to Vancouver (Statistics Canada 2001). According to the 2001 census data, 1,205 people living i n Vancouver indicated their ethnic origin to be Bulgarian (Statistics Canada, 2005). W i t h i n a decade the number o f Bulgarians i n British Columbia has doubled, with 1,664 people identifying themselves as having a Bulgarian background. The official statistics indicate that the average number o f years between the year o f immigration and acquisition o f Canadian Citizenship is 3.65. Another report from Immigration and Citizenship Canada shows that i n 2004 there were a total o f 2,014 permanent residents w i t h Bulgarian origin i n Canada (Statistics Canada, 2005). I f one considers the average number o f years it takes to acquire Canadian citizenship, one can conclude that from 2001 to the present day at least 2,000 more Bulgarian immigrants have entered Canada. One can also estimate that about 10% o f all post-1989 Bulgarian immigrants to Canada choose to come to Vancouver. It can be concluded that roughly about 1,500 persons with Bulgarian ethnic background, the majority o f w h o m have arrived after 1989, reside i n Vancouver. According to the data, until the end o f the Second W o r l d War about 10,000 Bulgarians immigrated mainly to the eastern part o f Canada (Traykov 1993:56). O f this number only very few came to British Columbia. Nearly ten times more Bulgarian immigrants entered the country  9  between 1991 and 2001 than between 1980 and 1991. In the period after the Second W o r l d W a r until 1980 there were about 300 Bulgarians entering Canada per decade. O f this number only about 25 people arrived i n Vancouver per decade. Similar waves o f immigration from East European countries to Canada were recorded twice: at the turn o f the 2 0 century and after the th  Second W o r l d War (Altankov 1979; Bobeva 1994; Traykov 1993; M i t e v 1993). Wesselin Traykov, the author o f one o f the most comprehensive historical accounts on Bulgarians i n North America, cites the Statistical Yearbook o f the Bulgarian K i n g d o m from 1909 to demonstrate that between 1904 and 1907 a total o f 21,372 Bulgarians emigrated to America, Australia and N e w Zealand. The emigrants were mainly men, only 28 o f them were women (Traykov 1993:21). This first emigration wave was comprised o f migrant workers who did not intend to settle down in the N e w W o r l d . M a n y o f them had wives and extended families waiting for them and their financial support i n Bulgaria. The second wave o f immigration from Bulgaria to North A m e r i c a must have included more women as the various sources point to numerous Bulgarian schools and women's societies that were organized b y Bulgarians i n North America between the two W o r l d Wars (Traikov 1993; Altankov 1979). According to the Census data the post-'Iron Curtain' immigration wave to Vancouver shows almost equal numbers o f men and women immigrating to Canada: 420 men and 400 women (Statistics Canada 2001). The total number for Canada i n 2001 included 4,560 women and 4,570 men having Bulgarian as their mother tongue. A s a result o f the post-1989 selection criteria o f Canadian Immigration regulations, which give preference to highly educated individuals with at least five years o f professional experience, the majority o f first generation Bulgarian immigrants i n the Vancouver area are women and men in their thirties and forties. Since these people were brought up and educated i n a Soviet type  10  socialist state, they experienced the financial and psychological hardship brought about by the transition to a market economy and emergence o f neo-liberal value system i n their home country. The transition meant the disruption o f established social structures i n East Europe and the delineation o f new rules o f social mobility. The desire among highly qualified individuals for remuneration that is commensurate with their level o f education and professional experience continues to be one o f the main motives for emigration (Markova and Saris 1997). N o less important for East European emigrants is the need for a secure environment characterized b y crime control and social stability. These reasons for migration are rooted i n the new sociopolitical and economic reality i n Bulgaria, but they are also grounded i n a particular personal upbringing. A r r i v i n g i n Canada, Bulgarian immigrants are faced with yet another set o f social and economic challenges which are further complicated b y the ties to their extended families i n their homeland. G i v e n relatively affordable telecommunications and travel costs, Bulgarian immigrants are able to maintain stable and habitual transnational relationships with their Bulgarian relatives and friends. Most o f the Bulgarian immigrants support their extended families financially and therefore are able to maintain and enforce their social position i n Bulgaria as well. Ethnographic and anthropological analysis o f post-socialist Bulgarian immigrant groups is very limited. In the post-1989 period a significant number o f statistical and economic studies have been conducted. These studies were sponsored b y different western government organizations as w e l l as the W o r l d Bank, the organs o f the United Nations and the European U n i o n and The Council o f Europe, among others. These institutions share a common aim to develop the economic status quo as w e l l as human potential o f post-socialist Bulgaria and to  11  formulate new or revised immigration, refugee and asylum conventions and policies i n anticipation o f Bulgaria's E U membership i n 2007 (Immigration, A s y l u m and Social Integration 2002; Rees and Kupiszewski 1999). In addition to the latter studies some research has been conducted on seasonal Bulgarian migrant workers i n the informal sector o f Greece and Turkey. Press coverage on Bulgarian migration is also limited. The popular press i n Bulgaria tends to speak o f the Bulgarians abroad i n a generalized way, lumping them a l l i n one category and creating a typology o f the emigre; seasonal migration is not referred to i n these discourses. Migrants' motives for emigration are also simplified, as w e l l as their way o f life i n foreign countries. This is probably not only caused by the efforts o f politicians to cover up their inability to deal with the crisis, but also by the lack o f ethnographic studies o f the present day emigres. Anthropological research on Bulgarian migration is slowly starting to grow but still largely consists o f doctoral dissertations or conference papers. Ethnographic research like that conducted by M a r i a Stoilkova focuses on what she calls "the Bulgarian intelligentsia i n exile," and examines the underlying reasons w h y children o f the former nomenklatura have immigrated to the United States. This type o f research is rarely published i n Bulgaria and access to the research findings is very difficult even for researchers like me. This thesis builds on social science research that has emerged i n the last two decades focusing on transnational social relations i n which migrants engage (Margold 1995; O n g 1999; Parrenas 2001; B l o c h 2003; Forrester, Zaborowska and Gapova 2004). W h i l e post-socialist ethnographic studies have been carried out i n various East European countries, very little  Studies of seasonal worker migration to neighboring countries like Greece and Turkey provide an interesting contribution to an understanding of transnational Bulgarians. This research uses historical data, and presents statistics on demographics of the region, and surveys data in order to establish a "typical" migrant worker (Markova and Saris, 1997). To some extent these studies can be helpful for looking at historical processes and economic tendencies and motivations for emigration. Nonetheless, these studies tend to mask the personal experiences and cultural factors that contribute to the processes of migration. 12  anthropological research has been conducted on post-socialist transnational communities. The studies on Bulgarian post-socialist emigration, i n particular, have considered mainly economic issues and serve the interests o f Western government and non-government organizations to control or limit migration flows (Markova and Saris 1997, Cholakov 2003, Ghodsee 2002). The present study aims to contribute to the anthropological literature on transnationalism b y drawing on a case study o f Bulgarian post-socialist immigrants i n the Vancouver area.  Doing transnational Fieldwork Analysis "Crossing o f boundaries", "immigration", "nations and states", "post-socialism", "gender" are all keywords that mark the academic discourse o f transnationality. These keywords are also used i n theories o f place and space, i n theories concerning change i n hegemonic ideological systems and i n theories examining the implications o f social change for identity formation. The present project synthesizes elements o f these theories to offer a new reading o f social space. The discourse o f transnationality i n the social sciences is not coherent. Some writers hypothesize the disappearance o f the nation and the formation o f ethnic and cultural communities that are not nation- or state-bound or even bound to a particular territory (Appadurai 1996a, 1996b). Contrary to this view, some anthropologists argue that massive waves o f permanent and semi-permanent migration have led states and corporate capital to incorporate diasporic groups within the borders o f the nation, thus creating transnational social spaces and actors within them (Basch, G l i c k Schiller and Szanton Blanc 1992; Levitt and G l i c k Schiller 2004; O n g 1999). Some transnational theorists challenge the idea that processes o f globalization lead to the loss o f culture and propose instead that diasporas can develop agency and recover non-Western models o f social life (Clifford 1994). Others look at transnational  13  migration as the manifestation o f the "failure o f c i v i l society" (Spivak 1996:249). M a n y o f these theorists approach the analysis o f these problems b y making them gender specific (Fouron and G l i c k Schiller 2001; Spivak 1996; Constable 1999; Kaplan 1994). Fouron and G l i c k Schiller, for instance, reflect on how power relations between genders shift i n transnational social space. In a relatively recent article Peggy Levitt and N i n a G l i c k Schiller propose "a social field approach to the study o f transnational migration and distinguish between ways o f being and ways o f belonging i n that field" (2004:1003). The authors draw on the social field theory o f Pierre Bourdieu i n attempting to exceed the boundaries o f the state and try to "conceptualize the potential array o f social relations linking those who move and those who stay behind" (1009). The authors define 'ways o f being" as how "individuals can be embedded i n a social field but not identify with any label or cultural politics associated with that field". B y contrast the authors define "belonging to a field" as the "practices that signal or enact an identity which demonstrates a conscious connection to a particular group" (1010). Depending on the context, different individuals choose sometimes to belong to and sometimes only to be i n the transnational social field. This set o f concepts is useful i n its attempt to overcome the binary oppositions that are often implied by transnational theories. A social field analysis o f transnational realities invites a revision o f the theory o f habitus as first formulated b y Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu suggests that members o f a social field inhabit a similar habitus, which is characterized by practices as w e l l as b y specific object and spatial markers (Bourdieu 1991; 1998). A n alternative Marxist approach to the production o f social space developed b y Henri Lefebvre can be fruitfully applied to an analysis o f the production o f space b y transnational social relations (1992). Lefebvre's emphasis on the production o f spaces through social relations complements Bourdieu's notion o f social fields and their interrelations.  14  Thus, combining both theories would be a fruitful approach to the understanding o f the being and belonging to a transnational social field. In the analysis o f the two events described i n the second part o f the present text, I w i l l apply the above theories and demonstrate how concrete social spaces are produced b y authorized representatives within various transnational social fields and how at the same time these locales reaffirm the authority o f the speakers within their respective habitus. M y analysis w i l l be further complicated b y taking into account the socialist past o f the researched group and b y outlining the distinctiveness o f post-socialist transnational individuals. There is a growing body o f anthropological research that impressively documents postsocialist life i n East European countries going through the socio-political and economic "transitory" stage (Burawoy and Verdery 1999; Harm 2002; Kaneff 2002, 2004). Post-socialist studies o f private and public spaces have pointed to the relationship between architecture, infrastructure, state ideology and power structures ( B o y m 1994; B u c h l i 1999; Humphrey 2005; Berdahl 1999). Private and public spaces produced during the Soviet era encode and reproduce memories and notions o f a particular way o f being and belonging (Lass 1994; B o y m 1998; Watson 1994). Memories o f these places are 'building blocks' o f the production o f the public and private places o f post-socialist immigrants i n their new home. A s M a r i a Todorova points out i n her introduction to the collection Balkan Identities.  Nation and Memory, the notion o f historic memory.. .has been traditionally treated as the repository o f ideas about common origins and the past, creating a deep feeling o f group solidarity. M e m o r y as a discrete category o f analysis, on the other hand, has only recently come under academic scrutiny i n East Europe as a whole, and i n the Balkans i n particular. Yet, this need not necessarily mean that the Balkans are i n the stage of.. .naturalized collective memory. (2004:3)  15  Furthermore, she points to the extensive body o f research i n which identity is part o f the memory discourse: The usual object o f study is the memory constructed by politicians and intellectuals, which is 'largely a public, often official, and narrowly political memory'. M e m o r y i n the private spheres o f family, workplace, neighborhood and friends may be very different and this poses the problem o f not only studying popular memories, but also the important and difficult issue o f reception ( A l o n Colfino cited i n Todorova 2004:3). W h i l e the research on personal memories is very recent and is still very rarely addressed for former East B l o c k countries, studies related to memory among post-socialist immigrants also pose a particular challenge. The celebration o f M a y 24th among Bulgarian immigrants i n Vancouver, which w i l l be described later, exemplifies the performance o f collective remembering through a fusion o f official history, individual memory, private events and the invocation o f emotions from the past. Later, I w i l l elaborate on how the organization and the decoration o f space reflects practices from past socialist times as w e l l as a new social environment. M y aim has been to consider memories o f socialist times and the period o f the transition to the market economy both i n order to understand the motivations for immigration and also to understand practices and ideologies that shape transnational spaces. A s Rubie S. Watson points out, "a focus on state socialism makes it possible to contextualize many o f the compelling issues o f the post-socialist era" (1994:5). The activities Bulgarians i n Vancouver described here are shaped b y a distinctively socialist upbringing. The motivation and desire o f audiences to participate i n these activities are also driven b y a need to perform particular rituals related to the past socialist state. Attendance at classes and celebrations organized b y the Bulgarian Language Heritage School are often tied to a need to carry on traditions. A s Lass writes, "history and culture, both stories and commodities, are through the institutionalized means o f dissemination,  16  re/presented as components o f everyday life with the added distinction o f the past tense" (1994:88-89). In " F r o m M e m o r y to History" Andrew Lass elaborates on "the feelings o f violence and the sense o f loss that accompanied the transformation o f [his] personal recollection into memorable facts" (Lass 1994:97). H e realizes that the official events o f the Velvet Revolution i n the Czech Republic served as a timeframe for his interviewees' recollection o f personal and private events that were rather routine and followed a usual schedule. However, their awareness o f being morally responsible to "move away from the passive complacency and opportunism" made them re-remember certain events i n order to subconsciously make their life stories historically significant, sometimes "to the point o f reenacting and appropriating other persons' recollections" (1994:96-97). Lass conducted his life-story interviews very soon after the changes i n the Czech Republic. The destruction and degradation that followed i n the next ten years is reflected i n all o f the interviews I have conducted. The destruction and degradation proved to be more emblematic o f the changes than the glorious historic events o f the victory o f democracy highlighted so vigorously b y the mass media and politicians at the time. I conducted m y interviews almost 15 years after socialist governments fell throughout East Europe and m y interviewees were among these people who left the country as a last resort. The images o f unrestrained criminality, growing destruction, poverty and mass migration have proven to be more enduring symbols o f the period after the F a l l o f the 'Iron Curtain' than the euphoric demonstrations and the removal o f monuments and beacons o f communist rule. In discussing their reasons for leaving interviewees pointed not so much to the hardship that had to be endured, but to their disappointment that there did not seem be a chance for positive changes to happen i n the society.  17  Temenouga (35), who is one o f the active members o f the Bulgarian Heritage School, shared with me details o f how her and her brother's small business was slowly but steadily jeopardized by the extortion o f mafia groups. She shared that at some point they either had to start associating with the mafia i n order to be able to survive or to drown their business b y deciding to remain honest. After her bank savings diminished to almost nothing i n just a matter o f days due to speculative inflation i n 1996-7, she and her husband started to realize that the only w a y to make it i n an honest way was to leave the country. The violence and aggressive behavior o f people, the feeling o f being vulnerable and unprotected were also leading themes i n the memories o f the post-1989 immigrants from Bulgaria. Another recollection o f Temenouga's is relevant here: I actually started a fight with a guy. The one whose windshield I broke. I was trying to get into a parking space to drop off m y kids i n daycare when a mutra [the Bulgarian name for a Mafioso] slipped into the free spot. I asked h i m to get out but he showed me the finger - this is when I stepped out o f m y car and banged m y purse into his windshield, breaking it... I lost m y nerve and fell to his level. .. . M y children are i n the car, and I break the windshield o f a mutra. Was I out o f m y mind? Usually these guys walk around armed, but he did not carry his gun that day. I asked myself, what are we doing here? H o w am I going to raise m y children, i f I have to pay bribes to get them into good schools, i f at 301 have to take sleeping pills to go to sleep? So, I made up m y mind to leave. 3  M i m o s a (45), a mathematician and mother o f three sons, worked as a full-time professor at a Bulgarian university. She described how her son was beaten almost to death for no apparent reason on one o f the well-illuminated and bigger streets i n a provincial Bulgarian town. She remembers being very upset because neither his friends nor any other people on the street tried to help h i m . For M i m o s a this was the poslednata kapha [the final drop] that made the decision to leave the country final.  3  The interviews were conducted in Bulgarian. All translations are mine. 18  The recollection o f experiences o f violence was often associated with feelings o f being vulnerable i n one's own home. What is typical during this period is the overlapping o f private and public spaces. F o r example all the new small businesses were run from home, which was a new reality i n Bulgaria. During socialist times the sphere o f professional life was clearly outlined, there were no professional activities happening i n the homes o f people (with the exception o f some artists). Perounika (49), a chemist and researcher, who worked i n the Bulgarian Academy o f Sciences , shared the following: 4  Because o f all the corruption and insecurities, a lot o f banks went bankrupt at that time, and all the people had to keep their money at home. M y husband was forced to buy an air gun, just i n case he needed to scare someone off. C a n you imagine the psychosis? Plus, he could not expand his business, because every time they [the mafia] would come and extort you. Our home was his business space. Customers were constantly i n our house, i n our living room. One time clients called at 2 i n the morning; they said they have to come to recycle a cartridge, or they would not be able to print a magazine i n the morning. A n d this at 2 am; they call at your home. Y e s , m y husband says, come on over... M a y b e i n time things w i l l change i n Bulgaria. Recollections o f this period by people that I have interviewed point to a loss o f values and o f physical and mental structures. Here is how Perounika reflected on the loss o f cultural values i n this period: "The other thing that tormented me was the decline i n culture, i n language, all this plague o f newspapers with all this vulgar language, street language, where you cannot hear, not see one sentence written out i n normal Bulgarian, you know. Y o u can't hear someone speak about something normal, just about - killing, robbing." A l l o f the interviewees who shared with me similar accounts o f experiences that made them leave the country also noted that they could never describe such experiences to non-Bulgarians i n Canada. They reasoned that from the perspective o f the Canadian society this would make them appear to be living i n very l o w social circumstances or even worse, to be criminals themselves.  Perounika was actively involved in the design and mounting of the exhibition for the Vancouver Language Heritage School.  4  19  In the section that follows I describe the production o f spaces and performances which are i n different ways silent about these historical events and painful memories. The reasons for this are grounded i n the social environments o f two nation states, but also i n the practices o f a former social order. The analysis o f the participation and involvement o f Bulgarians i n two events that took place i n the area o f Vancouver provides me with valuable material for an understanding o f transnational social spaces. The ethnographic analysis o f specific events has proven fruitful i n crystallizing theoretical points for a number o f scholars (Das 1995; Gray 2005; Panagakos 2003). Veena Das develops the idea o f "critical events" i n her examination o f India and discusses how, as she says, "new modes o f action came into being [following these events] which redefined traditional categories" (1995:6). Similarly, Patty Gray draws on Das to develop what she calls "epitomizing events" to explore how "through their gradual unfolding i n a limited context, key issues and conflicts emerged that revealed how different social groups...perceived the social space they occupied and the proper way to share that space... These events.. .serve to place the key issues o f concern.. .in sharp r e l i e f (2005:8). In what follows, I draw on event analysis to underline the differences between imposed ethnicity and transnational ethnic habitus.  Celebrations of Bulgarian Culture and Music in Vancouver Meetings involving a large number o f Bulgarian immigrants i n the area o f Vancouver are regularly organized by the Bulgarian Heritage Language School. The organizers o f the Heritage School are women who have maintained this school and its activities for the last thirteen years. The school's regular weekly classes and the celebration o f ethnically specific events have been held on a regular basis only for the last five years. These events are organized i n public libraries, community centers and churches that are arranged and decorated b y the teachers with the help o f  20  the parents and other volunteers according to their own understanding o f how these particular events should be framed.  5  The events organized by the school are very popular and Bulgarians  from all over the Greater Vancouver area come to attend. The last celebration o f M a y 24 was attended b y more that 180 people, which is a very high number compared to previous events that often drew no more than 50-60 people. In what follows two events are described, the celebration o f M a y 2 4 and a Bulgarian Folk M u s i c Concert at the Museum o f Anthropology, U B C . th  The collage exhibition "Bulgaria in Me " Children's giggling and laughter surround the teachers o f the Bulgarian Heritage Language School while they roll out the brown packaging paper rolls on the ground. They discuss the project and how they are going to do it. One little girl is the first to "have her picture taken". She lays down on the long strip of paper and a teacher outlines her body with a marker. Then she writes down the student's name on the bottom o f the sheet and the next k i d is called i n to be "outlined". The students w i l l take home their brown paper body outlines. Their homework is to fill their body outlines with colors, images or anything that illustrates for them how Bulgaria is part o f their lives here i n Vancouver. Since it is expected that their parents w i l l help them, they receive a short written description o f the idea o f the project to take home. The finished personal collages w i l l be exhibited during the celebration for the end o f the school year on the 24  of  M a y , 2005. The title o f the exhibition is "Bulgaria i n M e " . The collages have to be ready i n three weeks and submitted to the organizers o f the exhibition along with any items from the homes o f the kids that illustrate Bulgaria for them. These additional items w i l l become part o f other displays for the celebration.  None of the spaces of Greek orthodox or Russian/ Ukrainian, Serbian churches in town have been used by the school. 5  21  O n the day o f the event teachers carry the heavy posters with all the materials attached to the rented event hall. I help out b y carrying some o f the body-collages made b y the kids and their parents. They are quite heavy. W h i l e I walk I am struck by the physical expression o f the weight o f identity. I have to laugh; I am reminded o f another weight that I have to take on, the one o f responsibility towards m y fellow immigrants when I have to write up this ethnographic account o f Bulgarians i n Vancouver i n the coming months. The stories told through the collages are emotionally very moving. A n airplane is descending, ready to land on Bulgarian ground; the viewer is about to take a tour o f Bulgaria through the eyes o f a child and her parents. The photos, images and colors on the body-posters trigger feelings and memories not only i n the children who made the posters, but also i n the audience that w i l l later admire their work. A postcard i n the shape o f Bulgaria's geographic outline sits on the spot where the heart is supposed to be on the body-outline o f one o f the kids. A real t-shirt is placed on another outline, one o f a boy. The tag o f the t-shirt is made visible, it reads " M a d e i n Bulgaria". A smile is shining from the next poster-board; it is a digital blow-up o f a girl's face. The outline o f her body is "filled" with the colors o f the Bulgarian flag - white shirt, green and red trousers. A whole soccer player's outfit is attached to another body outline, a portrait o f a soccer player. A real soccer ball hangs at the feet. The jersey and the ball have the logos o f one o f the great soccer teams o f Bulgaria. The next body image is entirely filled with photos from a recent visit to Bulgaria. Smiling faces surround tables loaded with delicious food. Grandmothers and grandfathers are photographed with their grandchildren at the seaside, at cafes or somewhere i n the mountains around livestock, a dog or a donkey. A l l the posters show photos, snippets from joyous times i n Bulgaria. M a n y display postcards with images from the sea-side or ski resorts, others show arrangements o f famous Bulgarian culinary delicacies or pastoral  22  pictures from traditional houses, historic monuments, churches or monasteries. There are few postcards, and personal photos of people and places dominate the collages. The students stand proud infrontof their posters and let people take photos of them. Some take theirfriendsby the hand and lead them to their poster while explaining how they made it. A sense of pride and excitement protrudesfromtheir faces and bodies - their real bodies, not the reflections on the long strips of brown paper. I don't need to look further for a physical expression of the transnational state of being. It is right infrontof me. These children stand in a rented church hall in South Burnaby, talking partly in Bulgarian, but mostly in English about their experiences making the posters and about theirfriendsand relatives in Bulgaria, sharing memories of parties and trips and tasty food made by grandma. They run around in the hall, stop for split seconds in front of a poster, look at it, and thus transport themselves momentarily to another land, place and people, and then as quickly continue their tireless game, coming back to the party in South Burnaby. Is it a hybrid state of mind? I would argue otherwise. It is rather the cold fusion of differences, of distinctions that are extracted any time they are in demand to fill up the entire human vessel. Every poster alludes to at least one of the officially established national symbols, such as the flag and famous monuments, even though they are not prominent in the posters. What is striking is the personal element that distinguishes each of the collages. The children and their parents share with the viewer an image of how Bulgaria is meaningful to them. The stories told through the images are of happy times, beautiful nature and the warmth of people, and feelings of pride and joy. These images contrast sharply with the images of Bulgaria described in the stories I recorded about Bulgaria during my interviews.  23  The preparation for the event started many weeks in advance. The last months of the regular classes in the Bulgarian Heritage Language School were entirely devoted to rehearsals and memorization of the texts and poems for the program. The main driving force of the Bulgarian Heritage Language School is Vania Alexieva; she is a teacher by profession and teaches sciences and visual arts classes in a high school in South Burnaby. Many will agree with my observation that she does more than half of all the work related to keep the Heritage School running. She prepares the curriculum, teaches, composes and writes out the texts for the celebrations, as well as the PowerPoint presentations that run synchronized with the recited poetry and historical overviews. Vania is much beloved by the other teachers and the parents and has gained the love and trust of at least the Bulgarians who attended the previous May 24  th  celebration. In all of the private conversations I had with immigrants in Vancouver it was emphasized that if it wasn't for her energy and tireless efforts the celebrations and the regular program of the school would not exist as it does presently. The latter is supported by the fact that before she joined the school, about four years ago, the classes at the school were very sporadic and very few students attended. Last year regular classes were held weekly and the school had 32 regular students. Here I would like to note that Vania's enthusiasm is nourished by the support of a team of regular teachers, who in time have also gained the trust of everyone involved in the school with their regular and devoted attention and care for the students they teach. Without these ladies Vania would not be able to achieve her great projects. A l l of the teachers work entirely on a voluntary basis. The money collected as fees for the school covers transit fares for the teachers, who use public transportation to go to class. The rest of the funds, as well as donations, are put toward the cost of accrediting the Bulgarian language program of the Heritage School by the Ministry of Education in British Columbia. This  24  accreditation would allow students to receive high school credits for studying Bulgarian, but it would also firmly establish the school as having symbolic capital recognized b y the Canadian State. The symbolic capital the school currently has aquired was largely established b y Vania. A m o n g the Bulgarians V a n i a has achieved a certain status, what Pierre Bourdieu calls the status o f a person who concentrates within his or her speech "the accumulated symbolic capital o f the group which has delegated h i m and o f which he is the authorized representative" (1991:111). I w i l l come back to this point i n m y theoretical analysis o f the event. A s noted above, many Bulgarians actively support the School's initiatives and the celebration o f M a y 2 4 was no exception. O n the day o f the celebration many Bulgarian men th  and women arrived one hour earlier than the start time to decorate and transform the rented space - the event hall with a stage i n a South Burnaby Anglican church. Q u i c k l y the walls o f the hall were covered with the body-shaped collages o f the project "Bulgaria i n M e " . In between the collages were hung the materials o f the folklore exhibit. The exhibit was comprised o f folklore objects and textiles as w e l l as illustrations from historic or ethnographic books and Bulgarian tourist magazines and brochures brought b y the students from their homes. Tables with souvenir displays were put up i n the back o f the hall, close to the entrance. T w o tables were reserved for the exhibit o f the cellophane-wrapped traditional Bulgarian pastries and culinary chef d'oeuvres for the silent auction. Although not planned, the food spontaneously became a part o f the exhibition o f Bulgarian culture and labels were put i n front o f each food item with the name o f the dish or pastry. Before sitting down, people went around and looked at the posters and displays. They were moved b y the beauty o f the textiles and embroidery, and they also spent time looking at the  25  students' self-representational collages. The displays created a festive atmosphere, w h i c h was at the same time very intimate. After a delay due to technical difficulties, the celebration finally began with a greeting b y Vania, who was also the main moderator. She introduced the Bulgarian choir, an amateur group o f 10 men and women managed and conducted b y a professional female violinist, who also teaches music at Douglas College. The group sang the hymn Wurwi narode wuzrodeni (Go O n Y o u Enlightened People). I looked around; everybody was singing along. The h y m n is probably the most famous musical piece that has maintained its popularity independent o f the political winds and changes i n state power during the 19 and 2 0 centuries i n Bulgaria. After the end o f th  th  the song the audience reassured one another that the 2 4 o f M a y is the truest Bulgarian th  celebration and the hymn is the brightest and most moving music. Everybody applauded, the hall exploded with joyous voices. M a n y had tears i n their eyes. The choir then performed three classical songs. Next, the students o f the school stepped on the stage and accompanied b y a PowerPoint presentation, one by one contributed to a comprehensive historical overview o f the development o f the Bulgarian state since its founding 1300 years to the present. The highlight o f the historic overview was the story o f the creation o f the Slavic Alphabet by the H o l y Brothers K i r i l and Methodius. It is this event that is celebrated each year i n Bulgaria on the 2 4 o f M a y . The most important part o f this story is the fact that the Bulgarian Czar at th  that time was the only ruler o f a Slavic speaking population who not only harbored the persecuted disciples o f the H o l y Brothers, but also financed the building o f two great literary and spiritual schools, thereby securing for the Bulgarians their rightful place among the great European nations. In the following centuries Slavic literature written i n the C y r i l l i c alphabet spread from these schools i n Bulgaria to Croatia, K i e v a n Rus (what was to become Russia),  26  M o l d o v a and many other countries. Thus, the students concluded, "Bulgaria has given something to the world". The audience applauded and everybody was visibly moved. The historic overview continued b y very briefly pointing out officially celebrated events like the National Liberation struggle against the Ottoman Y o k e i n the 18 and 1 9 centuries and th  th  its heroes. The preservation o f the Bulgarian language during the 500 years o f the Y o k e was pointed out as one o f the markers o f the persistence and strength o f the Bulgarian national spirit. M o r e contemporary historical events were marked mostly b y portraits o f Bulgarian rulers flying by quickly on the presentation screen. N o t much time was spent on the period between the Liberation and the Second W o r l d War; the coming to power o f the Communists was noted i n passing along with the fact that at that time Bulgaria became a Republic. A portrait o f Georgi Dimitrov, the most acclaimed leader o f the Bulgarian Communist Party, was shown. The historic events o f the past 15 years i n Bulgaria were barely remarked upon with students only noting that since 1989 Bulgaria is a democratic country and the President o f the Republic o f Bulgaria is Georgi Parvanov. This part o f the presentation finished with a short overview o f the colors o f the Bulgarian flag; a portrait o f the president was shown, as w e l l as the new coat-of-arms. Remarking upon an image o f the shape and design o f the Bulgarian currency, a student said that i n Bulgaria the dollars are called L e w a and the cents are called Stotinki. The last part was greeted with humor from the audience; applause and laughter followed. The historical facts presented b y the very young students and their partly clumsy pronunciation o f the long and complicated words created an atmosphere o f general amusement and laughter i n the audience. The younger students continued the presentation with a new theme - " A n invitation to come on board a plane". The visual presentation continued with images o f a plane flying and crossing the sea to reach a map o f Europe. The students pointed to the geographic location o f  27  Bulgaria i n Europe as w e l l as to historic sites, monuments and famous tourist destinations i n Bulgaria. A musical program with classical music performances b y young piano players followed. Prizes were given out to students and parents who correctly answered questions posed during a quiz called " W h o wants to be a Millionaire". The questions were from Bulgarian history, geography and sports. M a y 2 4 concluded with a performance o f the Women's folklore dance group th  accompanied b y two male accordionists. The audience joined i n nearly a l l the dances. Everybody was cheering again and expressing how this is the true spirit o f being Bulgarian. Finally, a woman made a speech i n which she thanked the team that organized the event, especially the teachers, whose tireless efforts have contributed significantly to the preservation o f the Bulgarian spirit and culture i n Vancouver. Bouquets o f flowers were presented to a l l the teachers. This event is meaningful i n many ways. In its complexity it is a representation o f group identity, but also o f the uniqueness o f each immigrant experience. It is an act o f collective remembrance, but only o f certain events that are meaningful to Bulgarians i n Vancouver. The celebration validates forms o f identity expression that are new and unique, and also the production o f a locale, a space characterized b y social relations o f a new kind - transnational ones. F o r the purpose o f a comparative analysis i n the next section I turn to a second event that is also rendered b y Bulgarian ethnicity. It is an institutionally organized event, supported b y Canadian academics and connoisseurs o f Bulgarian music and dance. I have chosen to focus on this event because it highlights the issue o f authorized representatives and issues o f transnational belonging. Such celebrations o f Bulgarian folklore are very rare i n Vancouver; i n fact it is the only such event held since m y arrival i n Vancouver.  28  Balkan Folklore amid Northwest Coast Totem Poles The event described here was organized by the Department of Anthropology and Sociology (ANSO) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) with the active participation of one of the administrative staff members, who is also a member of a Balkan folklore dance group in Vancouver. The event started in the afternoon with a talk on Roma (Gypsy) music from the Balkans given by a professor of Anthropology and Music from a University in the northwestern United States. In the evening of the same day this same professor along with her husband, also a professor of music at the same US university, and a Bulgarian grad student of theirs gave a performance of Balkan folk music in the Great Hall of the Museum of Anthropology, UBC. The event at the museum was announced in the museum's official program. The graduate student and third member of the trio is a former professional Bulgarian folk music performer, who sings very well and plays such folk instruments as the gadulka (a string instrument), the kaval (a wind instrument) and the tupan (a percussion instrument). A staff member of the ANSO made numerous announcements, informing and inviting the officially-registered Bulgarian-Canadian Society to the event. She did not receive any response. Bulgarians were present at the event; however, they were there as part of a school field trip to the Museum of Anthropology sponsored by the Language Heritage School. The teachers planned first to visit the museum and then to attend the concert. The teachers of the Heritage Language School were to my knowledge the only Bulgarian adults who were present at the concert. Including the school children and myself there were 16 people who can be considered as belonging to the Vancouver Bulgarian Community. The teachers received information about the event through me. I offered to organize a guided tour of the museum for the students, parents and  29  teachers before the concert and so everyone was excited that the long trip from the suburbs, would be, in their words, "worthwhile". When the students and teachers and some parents arrived at the Museum they were greatly disappointed that the museum was closed for visitors and only the Great Hall was accessible for the concert. When the parents, who came with their children, were informed that they were not going to be able to tour the museum, they dropped off their children at the entrance and decided to go and have sushi instead. One of the teachers refused to enter the concert even though a ticket was provided for her. Instead, she went for a walk to see the University campus. Despite the lack of interest on the part of these Bulgarian-Canadians, the concert was very well attended. The audience was mainly comprised of the members of the Balkan dance group and their friends and relations. No Bulgarian is a member of this group, and few members are from the Balkans. The core and oldest members of the group are not ethnically associated the Balkan region. However, they love the music and the dances and passionately support folkloric events like the one described here. The musicians invited the audience to dance to their music. The members of the group danced to almost all the music that was performed that night. The Bulgarians participated in two or three dances. All of the pieces performed were introduced and the songs were translated and interpreted by the professor before they were performed. Three of the very young Bulgarian 6  students participated in the dances along with the big dance group, although not following a particular dance step. The kids seemed to like the attention they received from the audience rather than the participation in the dance. They continuously bowed to the audience and performed quick pirouettes (dance elements that are not typical of Bulgarian folk dance). The trio performed Bulgarian music as well as Macedonian, Serbian and Gypsy music. Two of the 6  Both of the professors are ethnically not from the Balkan region.  30  teachers who sat next to me commented several times how unusual it feels for them to hear Bulgarian music performed by non-Bulgarians and to see Bulgarian dances danced with such enthusiasm by non-Bulgarians, all set among ancient First Nations totem poles. At the end of the event organizers commented on the low number of Bulgarians attending the concert, and they expressed regret that such a successful concert was not attended by more Bulgarians; some commented that this would have reaffirmed their tradition and ethnicity. Jokingly, one of the members of the dance group even blamed the activists of the Bulgarian-Canadian Society for being impolite and not actively supporting events like this by at least being present. I was given a ride to my house in the van of the main teacher of the Heritage Language School. The van was packed with students and other teachers. As soon as we left the museum and entered the van, everyone again started expressing their regrets for not being able to visit the museum and I had to promise to make up for the missed tour some time in the near future. No further mention of the event was made. As a graduate student at the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at U B C , I considered myself to be one of the hosts of this event and I was saddened by the reactions of the Bulgarians. I even blamed myself for not being more active encouraging more Bulgarians to attend the unique event. Nonetheless, I concluded that such social behavior must be understood from a wider frame of reference. I found a way to approach this case using the theories of Bourdieu and Lefebvre and applying them to the larger frame of transnational theory.  Theoretical Discussion Transnational theory hardly touches on the moment of the concrete production of social space or locale in the sense Henri Lefebvre refers to. As mentioned above, in my analysis I want  31  to contribute to one understanding o f the transnational production o f space b y applying Levitt and G l i c k Schiller's insights from Bourdieu's concept o f social fields i n light o f Lefebvre's theory o f the production o f social space. Since transnational social spaces i n which immigrant Bulgarians belong are marked ethnically, i n the following analysis I propose to include the concept o f ethnic habitus i n the theory o f transnational social fields. The concept o f "ethnic habitus" was introduced to some extent b y Bourdieu himself, and it was refined b y G . Carter Bentley (1987) and K e v i n Yelvington (1991). It has also been applied i n transnational ethnographic studies b y authors like E v a Illouz and Nicholas John (2003) and Anastasia Panagakos (2003). In one o f his comments on cultural habitus Bourdieu mentions the role o f ethnic social spaces. Social space is understood as a multi-dimensional space i n which individuals are defined b y their "relative positions" to one another (1991:230). The multidimensionality o f such space is defined b y the volume and the relative weights o f different types o f capital (social, cultural, economic) that a person possesses, and according to which he/she acquires a position i n the space. Bourdieu clarifies that in certain social universes, the principles o f division, which like the volume and structure o f capital, determine the structure o f the social space, are reinforced b y principles o f division that are relatively independent o f economic or cultural properties, such as ethnic or religious affiliation. The distribution o f agents appears i n this case as the product o f the intersection o f two spaces which are partly independent o f each other, since an ethnic group situated i n a inferior position i n the space o f ethnic groups can occupy positions i n all the fields, even i n the highest, but with rates o f representation which are inferior to those o f an ethnic group situated i n a superior position. Each ethnic group can thus be characterized b y the social positions o f its members, by the rate o f dispersion o f these positions and finally b y the degree o f social integration despite dispersion. (Ethnic solidarity may have the effect o f ensuring a form o f collective mobility.) (1991:289. Parenthesis added b y Bourdieu)  According to the last statement, ethnic habitus and the delineation o f social fields b y ethnic affiliation can also define a form o f capital. Although Bourdieu points to how social space  32  may be formed by ethnic groups, he does not explicitly link ethnicity to cultural capital or consider it as a form of symbolic or even social capital. He treats ethnicity as an element in the construction of social space in which the position of ethnic groups is defined by their intersection in social space. For members of a society whose ethnicity overlaps with the official culture of a society, for example the French in France or the English in Britain, ethnicity is not the basis for a form of capital separate from cultural capital. Bourdieu's understanding offers a useful way of conveying how different ethnic groups embody habitus that are different and differentiating within actual spaces. If an ethnic social space exists, it means that its structure is governed by the existence of forms of capital associated with ethnicity which secure the social mobility and position of agents in this social space. In a multicultural society like Canada, ethnic difference is the basis for accumulating cultural capital and in many cases it creates the necessary distinction and differentiation which confers specific social positions. In the case of Bulgarians in Vancouver this ethnic space is further complicated by transnational social relations and a socialist past that raise questions about the function of ethnic capital in a transnational social field. Similarly, in her study of a Greek community in Alberta, Anastasia N. Panagakos develops a critique of state-imposed ways of being Greek and the official legitimation of cultural institutions (2003). She describes annual Greek public food and culture festivities that have to be politically neutral and to produce the expected notion of 'Greekness' in order to be perceived as successful. Panagakos looks at alternative ethnic social spaces in which ethnic capital can be transformed into economic or symbolic capital. For the younger generation such spaces are often found on the internet, and for the elderly they are frequently located in Greek soap operas, produced in Greece. In these spaces ethnic social networks are created and maintained. These  33  ethnic habitus are very different from the lifestyle that outsiders o f the Greek community imagine Greeks to have since they embody a transnational element that crosses multiple national borders. The Greek soap opera also maintains transnational relationships by imposing a type o f Greek habitus from Greece onto the ethnic habitus o f Greek people i n Canada. The soap opera produced i n Greece thus becomes part o f the Greek habitus i n Canada. The social capital extensive networks between transnational Greeks - created by this specific ethnic group can then be transformed into symbolic or economic capital, for example, when information about cheap travel tickets, good Greek food, job opportunities, and so on is circulated through these networks. L i k e the Greeks i n Alberta, Bulgarians i n Vancouver also embody alternative forms o f ethnic habitus that truly exist and define their distinctive transnational social field. Here I arrive at the question: how do the particular places formed by Bulgarian post-socialist transnational individuals produce and reaffirm their identities and social practices? I w i l l approach this question by applying these theories to the two events described above. The M u s e u m o f Anthropology (MOA)-event offers a sharp contrast to the M a y 24th celebration i n how it reflects transnational ethnic identity among Bulgarians i n Vancouver. Indeed, given that it was one o f the rare occasions o f wonderful celebration o f Balkan folk music and dance i n Vancouver, the M O A - e v e n t should have been attended i n greater numbers b y Bulgarians. However, it is interesting to go deeper into the reasons for w h y it was ignored or even purposely avoided by some Bulgarians. In a theoretical discussion on authorized language, Pierre Bourdieu states: A performative utterance is destined to fail each time that it is not pronounced b y a person who has the 'power' to pronounce it, or more generally, each time that the 'particular persons and circumstances i n a given case' are not 'appropriate for the  34  invocation o f the particular procedure invoked; i n short, each time that the speaker does not have the authority to emit the words that he utters (1991:111).  Bourdieu's aim here is to define who has the power to pronounce successful utterances: it is the person who concentrates within his/her speech "the accumulated symbolic capital o f the group which has delegated h i m and o f which he is the authorized representative"  (1991:111). I wish to  consider how this concept can be applied to the discussion o f the space i n which successful utterances are made. A s Lefebvre might argue, social space offers the site for the production of authorized representatives,  and vice versa: authorized representatives assist i n the production o f social  space. In particular, the M O A - e v e n t was produced by the institution o f the museum and b y the institutional authority o f the organizers and performers i n the event. The M u s e u m o f Anthropology has a reputation based on the accumulated symbolic capital as being a competent institution for the interpretation o f ethnicity and foreign culture for the Canadian mainstream society. In this case, the performers also receive validation from the symbolic rank they have i n the academic world, their long-term research on Balkan music, and their capacity to actively engage i n their enterprise as authentic performers. A s members o f the Folklore Dance Group, the organizers o f the concert receive validation through the support o f various departments o f the university, particularly the Department o f Anthropology and Sociology and the Department o f M u s i c , and from their long-term reputation for performing Balkan folk dances and i n participating i n various dance festivals i n North America and Bulgaria. The M O A - e v e n t is one o f many events that exhibit live ethnic utterances. A s such it is fair to say that on this night visiting Bulgarians to the museum became part o f the exhibited ethnicity, rather than part o f the audience from the Canadian mainstream society. Their  35  withdrawal from the event can therefore be understood as an attempt to assert both their o w n Canadian identity and their right to express their o w n cultural heritage i n their o w n way. Following the tradition o f a mainstream society o f acquiring cultural capital by visiting ethnographic museums about ethnic groups, the Bulgarians that came to M O A that night intending to visit the space o f the museum as observers o f an exhibited ethnicity, namely o f Northwest Coast First Nations. Learning that they had to become part o f an event that w i l l exhibit their o w n ethnos, they changed their minds. The ones who chose not to enter then decided to replace the planned symbolic consumption o f ethnicity i n the museum with a rather spontaneous (and quite literal) act o f ethnic consumption - eating sushi. From this perspective it can be argued that they decided to leave their children with V a n i a as an expression o f respect for the teachers rather than the event itself, so that they could complete their field trip as part o f the initiatives o f the Bulgarian Language Heritage School. The other adults who entered the space tried to distance themselves from it as much a possible, observing it from a distant and 'neutral' point o f view b y making comments on the setting o f the event. In effect, they chose to remain visitors o f the Museum o f Anthropology rather then become participants i n the concert. The kids were allowed to do their classical ballet pirouettes and fool around because the concert had no ethnic validity for them as Bulgarians. Nevertheless, out o f courtesy and the need to get some entertainment for the money they paid, the adults danced i n the first and last dance o f the performance, thereby maintaining their standpoint as observers rather then participants. In fact, the moment the group exited the museum they became cold, distant and silent about the performance itself, remarking only on their regret that they could not visit the museum as promised.  36  O f course, as Bourdieu indicates, such strategies are not necessarily conscious for the agents involved. A s among the Greeks i n Alberta that Panagakos studies, the Bulgarians i n this setting have assumed an alternate ethnic habitus to the one that the official multicultural society is trying to impose on them. In contrast to the organizers o f the collage event from M a y 2 4 , the th  organizers o f the M O A - e v e n t have not gained enough symbolic capital within the Bulgarian transnational ethnic social space i n Vancouver to receive adequate support from this community. Turning now to the M a y 2 4 celebration, I would like to look i n particular at the details th  o f the accounts o f the past that were missing from the various presentations on M a y 2 4 . The th  theme o f memory and remembrance, which strikingly dominated what I am calling the collageevent was also present i n all the conversations and interviews I conducted. Here I observed an interesting discrepancy between what was shown at the event and how people reminisced i n their interviews about the experiences i n Bulgaria that ultimately led to their decision to leave the country. In contrast to the interviews, the exhibition and presentation did not refer to the hardships o f the years after the fall o f the Iron Curtain; no allusion was made to the economic destitution that still plagues the country. W h i l e the folklore element o f the event was rather an illustration o f the historic past and the traditional roots o f 'Bulgarianness', the most striking emphasis was placed on the claim that Bulgarians not only belong to mainstream European culture, but also have contributed significantly to it. Examples o f this include the formal choir performances o f classical pieces, children performing classical music on the piano, and the quiz game " W h o wants to be a Millionaire" with questions about Bulgarians who have claim to world fame - scientists, sport stars and famous opera singers. It is also important to note that the annual celebration on M a y 2 4 , which is called the most Bulgarian celebration i n both Bulgaria and th  37  here in Vancouver, commemorates the contribution of Bulgarians to world culture in developing the Slavic script. Many formal elements of the celebration are reminiscent of similar festivities conducted in Bulgaria in the past. Deema Kaneff s ethnography Who Owns the Past published in 2004 is a valuable source for retracing the formal elements in these celebrations and relating them to structures established during socialist times. She describes the private and public life of a Bulgarian village which was closely associated with the central political power during state socialism. Analyzing private and public events and activities she separates the experience or the invocation of the past neatly into three different categories - history, tradition and folklore which "provided a central organizing principle not only for social relations within the community but also for the way the community engaged in wider state structures" (10). The aim of the Communist state was to relocate "traditional practices out of private into public arenas;.. .with such a distancing, tradition was transformed into folklore" (140). According to Kaneff the objective of visually and performatively presenting the traditional was largely achieved. The collage-event exhibits exactly these features of the traditional transformed into folklore and placed into a linear evolutionary historic context. As illustrated in Figures 3 and 4,  Figure 3  Figure 4  38  traditional household items are arranged together with post cards and souvenirs from Bulgaria and placed in front of posters of women wearing folk costumes. Traditional pastries are arranged as exhibits, not meant to be consumed at the event.  In Conclusion In the context of the collage-event where historical progress and cultural and scientific achievements were presented, the hardships experienced after 1989 did not fit. The economic and cultural demise of the Bulgarian state is a source of embarrassment for many as can be derived from the excerpts from various interviews cited earlier. The need and effort to disassociate oneself from the kind of past described above is obvious in the self-representational choices made by the organizers and participants in the collage-event. The Bulgarian transnational individual clearly exhibits her or his associations with the Bulgarian nation-state; however, these associations as shown in the collage-event are predominantly cultural; no comments were made regarding the economic or political situation in Bulgaria. The children's body-outline collages, which were made with the active participation of the parents, physically and symbolically framed the space of the event. These were very personal and filled with the intimate stories they tell of holiday experiences in Bulgaria and close connections to extended family and friends. The collages and the folklore exhibit were made up of objects that come from the private spaces of the homes of immigrants. These mark the crucial defining elements in the production of transnational social space. The collages convey the intention and need for a very close relationship with Bulgarian tradition and culture, as well as with the extended family and friends who live in Bulgaria. The children have very strong relationships with their grandparents and proudly tell stories about them. These stories remind one of the fact that very often immigrants  39  rely on the help o f their parents for child care b y inviting them to Canada or b y sending the children for long vacations to Bulgaria. W h i l e the economic support that immigrants provide to their extended families i n Bulgaria is not directly referred to i n the collages, they reflect this aspect o f the relationship as well. Although the folklore elements are part o f a public exhibition, they are mainly reflections o f private spaces i n Vancouver. The privacy and intimacy o f the immigrant experience is shared i n public b y means o f the collages and the exhibit. The exhibit frames the officially constructed historic and cultural performance. Elements o f performances from a different social reality are adopted to be combined with the social realities o f a present existence - a transnational one. The South Burnaby church hall was transformed i n the creating o f a completely new space, detached from political associations. None o f the Bulgarians have religious associations to this church, the reason for going there was due to low rental fees. In Bulgaria the locales for such celebrations are historically marked b y political power, and political issues are frequently invoked. The church event hall offered a 'clean slate' on which to produce a new locale, free o f politics and only triggering associations with high spiritual values. In contrast to the museum space at M O A where ethnic exhibits already shape the environment i n a particular way, the event hall o f the church did not impose previously constructed ethnic frames. Although it appeared that the setting up o f the exhibits was much improvised, the arrangement o f the space was carefully planned i n advance b y V a n i a and her team o f teachers and volunteers. B y planning the content o f the performance as w e l l as the elements o f the visuals that physically framed the event, they followed conventions from their past i n Bulgaria as w e l l as the new social environment i n Canada. For instance, silent auctions were performed for school fundraising, and everyone could perform as long as they wanted to share something, breaking with the formal rules that exist i n  40  Bulgaria that only highly trained professionals can be part o f folk dance presentations during celebrations. The success o f the event among Bulgarians i n Vancouver reaffirmed the validity o f the produced social space as w e l l as the validity o f the authorized representatives who inhabit that space. A s mentioned above, some elements o f the celebration resembled practices from the socialist past. Thus, the organizers received through this event a further validation - that o f women having the rightful role and mission to be bearers o f tradition and culture. One o f the projects o f the Soviet type state was to engage women actively i n the production o f public cultural and educational events. During socialist times "civic participation was central to an ideology o f 'emancipation'" (Bloch 2004:99). The organizers o f the event were exclusively women, men helped out b y readily following instructions. Thus, Vania's representative authority within the post-socialist transnational social field is constructed also through her gender. She is no exception, as there are a number o f very active women who have organized the regular meetings o f the Bulgarian choir and the Women's F o l k dance group. These women with their high social standing among Bulgarians i n Vancouver maintain the active social networks within Vancouver, as w e l l as with cultural institutions i n Bulgaria. A s with the Greek community i n Alberta described b y Panagakos, the social capital gained within the social field o f the Bulgarian Language Heritage School is very potent for the agents as it can be transformed into symbolic or economic capital. The social networks created though the participation i n school events lead to the cultivation o f other forms o f ethnic Bulgarian habitus. Families meet i n their private homes on a regular basis to view old Bulgarian movies and reminisce. During such visits important information is exchanged about financial opportunities or good mortgage deals. For instance, i f they need to buy tickets to Bulgaria and  41  other holiday destinations, like Cuba or Mexico, Bulgarians usually consult with other Bulgarians in Vancouver or North America. The people I have interviewed are in regular contact over the internet with other Bulgarian immigrants in Canada as well as the United States. As matter of a fact, a lot of information is exchanged over the internet among Bulgarians in the Vancouver area. The teachers told me that the teenage students of the Heritage School regularly chat with each other on the internet. They exchange various information and help each other out for different school projects. The teachers of the Heritage School mainly use the internet to inform parents and other Bulgarians of events at the school or even about other cultural events in Vancouver that might be of interest. The question of how the particular places formed by Bulgarian post-socialist transnational individuals produce and reaffirm their identities and social practices has been largely answered through the examples I have provided above. I have focused my analysis of the Bulgarian transnational social field more on the individuals, who "belong to it", to use Levitt and Glick Schiller 's term. There are, of course, many ways of being in this field, but the analysis of the particular locales and private or public spaces created by such agents remain to be described in another study. In their article on transnational social fields Peggy Levitt and Nina Glick Schiller advocate strongly for the disassociation of the notion of society from the geographical limitations of the nation-state (2004). They argue that "much of the social science theory equates society with the boundaries of a particular nation-sate, [and] researchers often take rootedness and incorporation in the nation-state as the norm and social identities and practices enacted across state boundaries as out of the ordinary" (1007). Furthermore, the authors differentiate themselves from researchers that try to find intersections between the global and the individual and  42  completely ignore social relations and social positioning. "Without the concept o f the social, the relations o f power and privilege exercised b y social actors based within structures and organizations cannot be studied or analyzed" (1008).This study has sought to illustrate the utility o f such an approach. U s i n g Bourdieu's approach to social fields, I have also tried to identify the type o f habitus social fields produce, but also the social spaces b y which such habitus are produced. B y combining Bourdieu and Lefebvre I have attempted to bridge the abstract social field with the theories and understanding o f the production o f locales. From this perspective the application o f Levitt and G l i c k Schiller's model for the analysis o f transnational social fields becomes more relevant. To some extent, this analysis o f the public practices o f Bulgarian immigrants i n Vancouver addresses a social field that has a distinctive position i n the social structure o f the Canadian northwest coast society as a whole. U s i n g the work o f Levitt and G l i c k Schiller, the analysis also discussed the practices and social relations that go beyond nation-states by linking individuals and producing spaces that render different types o f habitus. According to Bourdieu's theory o f the habitus these types o f activities simultaneously structure and are structured by transnational social space. Levitt and G l i c k Schiller point to a methodology that overcomes binary oppositions like "homeland/new land,.. .migrant/ non-migrant, and acculturation/ cultural persistence" (2004:1012). Since these oppositions limit research to the boundaries o f nationstates, the authors insist on developing a social space model that breaches these boundaries. The analysis o f the events presented above illustrates how the Bulgarian transnational social field is not fixed by the geographical boundaries o f either Canada or Bulgaria. The analysis also shows that the particular social fields created b y post-socialist Bulgarian immigrants i n Vancouver are  43  not fixed b y only one social order. Drawing on Lefebvre's approach makes it possible to recognize the processes b y which transnational space is produced and defined b y the experience o f Bulgarian immigrants raised under state socialism. Transnational social fields can vary widely from one community to another. A s G l i c k Schiller and Peggy Levitt point out, it is important to consider along with the wider global processes and nation-state policies the particularities o f the social fields which they construct and by which they are shaped. A s noted at the beginning o f this text, m y aim is to participate and contribute to the self-exploration discourse that exists among Bulgarian immigrants i n Vancouver. A t the same time, I have sought to expand the understanding o f immigrant groups and transnational individuals within the wider frame o f the Canadian multicultural society. This brings me back to one o f the comments with which I started this text. In it a woman expressed her rather pessimistic believe that different ethnic groups i n Canada "live on different building floors" and therefore do not communicate meaningfully with one another. I would like to consider this metaphor more optimistically and add that the image o f a building suggests also the existence o f staircases and elevators that connect these floors. I find that the metaphor can also be rendered to illustrate the concept o f a multicultural society rather then the concept o f a homogenous nationalistic state i n which ethnic groups are supposed to amalgamate into a coherent entity. In such a building different groups, including ethnic communities, have the opportunity to create their own places, their sense o f home, while at the same time the staircases allow for the possibility o f establishing a meaningful communication between these spaces. In the thirteen years o f its existence the Bulgarian Language Heritage School i n Vancouver has faced numerous victories and a number o f challenges; it is still i n search o f a permanent space for its regular classes. W h i l e it is recognized b y the Bulgarians who support and  44  participate in its activities as their cultural representative, it still strives to gain official institutional recognition of its language training program. The efforts of the teachers to maintain the cultural spirit of Bulgarian-Canadians are tireless. It was their idea to create a selfrepresentational exhibit in a museum in Vancouver that inspired this research. 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