This article is an attempt to shed more light on the topic of state socialist feminism in Eastern Europe by focusing on part of the biography of one of the most visible women’s activists and political functionaries in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe after 1944, Tsola Dragoicheva. It should be considered as a contribution to the ongoing debate regarding the character of state socialist measures toward women and the “gender contract” in the countries of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe between 1944 and 1989. It does not pretend, however, to cover and evaluate Dragoicheva’s entire life (or to agree with everything she did) or to create an exhaustive picture of state socialist measures toward women in Bulgaria (nor does it underestimate the significance of structured gender inequalities, which often remain unnoticed); rather, it discusses some facts and procedures dealing with “women’s issues” that researchers have only vaguely covered so far. The study is based on various archival materials from Bulgarian and international archives, and on the periodical press from the period under consideration, oral history interviews, and scholarly publications relevant to this topic. It is part of an ongoing project on Gendering Balkan Nation-States.
Krassimira Daskalova is a professor of modern European cultural history at St. Kliment Ohridski University in Sofia, Bulgaria. She has published extensively on women’s and gender history and history of the book and reading of modern Bulgaria and Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Her most recent monograph is Zheni, pol i modernizatsia v Bulgaria, 1878-1944 (Women, gender and modernization in Bulgaria, 1878-1944), published by Sofia University Press in 2012. Between 2005 and 2010 Daskalova served as president of the International Federation for Research in Women’s History (IFRWH). Since 2007 she has been editor and since 2011 also book review editor of Aspasia. Daskalova has received a number of prestigious fellowships and scholarships, most recently a Fulbright Fellowship and the Joy Fellowship of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org