Accepted paper:

Notions and representations of homeland among the Bulgarian immigrant community in Chicago

Authors:

Nikolai Vukov (IEFSEM - Bulgarian Academy of Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

The paper presents the notions and representations of homeland, maintained by Bulgarian immigrants in Chicago. Based on diverse fieldwork materials, the paper traces the reflections of nostalgia in everyday practices and outlines the symbolic construction of homeland in the context of immigration.

Paper long abstract:

The goal of the current paper is to present the notions and representations of homeland, maintained by Bulgarian immigrants in Chicago and forming a core point in their collective identity. Based on diverse examples including personal narratives and life stories, festive celebrations, participation in community gatherings, home interior, family celebrations, etc., the paper will trace the reflections of nostalgia in everyday practices and will outline the symbolic construction of homeland in the context of immigration. The Bulgarian immigrant community in Chicago is the largest Bulgarian community in the United States and among the largest community of Bulgarians living abroad. Despite the long geographical distance, the length of the period in immigration (in some cases spanning across three generations), Bulgarian immigrants in this megapolis maintain a steady set of notions and representations of homeland which found expression in their everyday activities, contacts with friends and families in Bulgaria, and in various social events that emphasize Bulgarian cultural identity. The paper will reflect on some of these expressions, emphasizing the role of homeland as representing a social and psychological "anchor" for immigrants in the new environment, a key mechanism for their "survival" and adjustment, and a steady characteristic that distinguishes them from other immigrant communities in this multicultural city. In such a way, through analysis of concrete empirical materials in comparative perspective, the paper will outline the socio-psychological effects of construing images and representations of homeland in a changed cultural environment.

panel Mig05
Images of home away from home (Migration and Mobility Working Group)