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

Abstract

In this thesis I present a study of Bulgarian immigrants who arrived in Vancouver after the fall of the ’Iron Curtain’ in 1989. I conducted my fieldwork from the summer of 2004 to the fall of 2005 in both Bulgaria and in Canada. Although the study presented me with numerous themes that speak of a transnational lifestyle, what struck me the most was the need of 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 of the so-called transnational identity is lived and how it is taking shape in the age of post-socialism. For this purpose I have chosen to focus in particular on the production of transnational social spaces in the case of the Bulgarian Heritage Language School in Vancouver. I explore two instances of the production of public social space, which relate to transnational Bulgarian ethnicity. The analysis of these case studies reveals how particular locales are produced by authorized representatives of transnational social groups and how at the same time these concrete social spaces reaffirm the authority of the speakers within their respective habitus. As proposed by transnational theorists like Peggy Levitt and Nina Glick Schiller, I apply Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of social space, making use of his concept of habitus, and complement it with Henri Lefebvre’s theory of the social production of physical spaces. By combining these theories in the analysis of the two events I am outlining the specific features of Bulgarian ethnic habitus which is shaped by, but also is continuously shaping, Bulgarian transnational identity.

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