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Migration Studies in Bulgaria

Scope, Experiences and Developments

Magdalena Elchinova

The article overviews the current state of migration studies in Bulgaria. It is argued that their deficiencies stem from the fact that they are nationally embedded, contingent on ongoing public and political discourses, almost exclusively limited to the sociological, psychological and cultural dimensions of migration, and largely operating with the concepts of community, ethnicity and identity, despite the increasing share of ethnographic descriptions of good quality in the field. The further development of migration studies in Bulgaria will depend on the elaboration of a more complex and systematic analytical framework. A shift from community and ethnicity to gender, kinship, social networks and other explanatory categories is needed. It is also necessary to see the variety of forms of commonality and interaction between migrants in order to see migration as a dynamic phenomenon. Finally, it is crucial to develop an interdisciplinary theoretical framework that would best fit the complex nature of migration.

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Irina Gigova

This article considers the Club of Bulgarian Women Writers as a case study on the interrupted feminisation of twentieth-century Bulgarian belles-lettres and culture. It argues that the modernisation project of Bulgarian intellectuals in the interwar years led to an environment propitious for the emergence of a cohort of women literati who furthered women's emancipation, and generated an original and popular textual tradition. The Club, which existed between 1930 and 1949, was emblematic of the wide acceptance of women intellectuals in patriarchal monarchical Bulgaria, and their subsequent marginalisation in the post-war socialist republic. Having declared gender equality fulfilled, the communist regime considered literary interest in womanhood or the individual hostile to its social and political agenda. Interwar women intellectuals, whose very worldview demanded an unrestrained confluence of personal, female and intellectual identities, lost their social importance. Likewise, the Club and its members were excised from cultural and public memory until the 1990s.

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Georgeta Nazarska

The article explores the history of the Bulgarian Association of University Women (BAUW) (1924-1950) within the broader framework of two historical periods in Bulgarian history (before and after the political change in September 1944) and during a democratic, an authoritarian, and a totalitarian regime. The article outlines the internal and external prerequisites for the emergence of the BAUW, its profile as a feminist organisation in Bulgaria, and its position in the context of other professional feminist organisations with a social profile after the First World War. It discusses some particularities in the ideology and the organisational structure of the BAUW, and details the process of the organisation's destruction.

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Krassimira Daskalova and Karen Offen

Sources translated and discussed: Vela Blagoeva, “Klasovo suznanie i feminism” (Class consciousness and feminism), Zhenski trud (Women’s labor) 1, no. 2 (1904–1905): 1–2; [Ana Karima], “Nie” (We), Ravnopravie (Equal rights) 1, no. 1 (November 1908): 1–2; [A. Karima], “Vnasiame li nie raztseplenie” (Do we divide the Union?) Ravnopravie 1, no. 3 (1908): 1–2.

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Valentina Mitkova

Albena Vacheva, V periferiata na kanona. Bulgarskite pisatelki prez purvata polovina na 20 vek (In the periphery of the canon. Bulgarian women writers in the first half of the twentieth century), Sofia: Prosveta, 2014, 372 pp., 17.00 BGN (pb), ISBN 978-9-54012-831-3.

Milena Kirova, ed., Neslucheniat kanon: Bulgarski pisatelki ot 1944 godina do nashi dni (The canon that did not happen: Bulgarian writers from 1944 to the present day), Sofia: Altera, 2014, 512 pp., 18.00 BGN (pb), ISBN 978-9-54975-792-7.

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Christian Promitzer

This article engages with the commonly encountered claim that Bulgarian physical anthropology "features a long, fruitful, and honorable existence," by discussing Bulgarian anthropology's contribution to the controversial issue of ethnogenesis. With the Russian influence waning from the mid-1880s on, the pioneers of Bulgarian anthropology were largely influenced by the German example. But the first generation of Bulgarian anthropologists' tradition of "racial liberalism" (Benoit Massin) was lost after World War I. On the eve of World War II a debate on racism raged among Bulgarian intellectuals. By the time blood group analysis had joined anthropometrics, adherents of a closer collaboration with the Third Reich used it to argue for the Bulgarian nation's non-Slavic origins. In 1938 they even disrupted a lecture given by the biologist Metodiy Popov when he wanted to stress the Bulgarians' ethnic relationship with the other Slavic nations, and to repudiate the idea of a hierarchy of races. During the Socialist period a new generation of anthropologists went on to investigate the Bulgarian ethnogenesis using the term "race", although this clearly contravened the 1950 UNESCO statement on the race question.

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Tsvetana Boncheva

The article deals with the institution of ‘village nuns’, a form of religious celibacy among Bulgarian Catholics in the Plovdiv region during the first half of the twentieth century. The primary concern of this article is the structuring and functioning of the institution of village nuns, viewed from the perspective of the fractal dichotomy strategy–tactics, belonging to the paradigm of fractal dichotomies including religious culture–traditional culture, clergy/male celibacy-–nuns/female celibacy, masculinity–femininity. The sources used in the research are of different types: census registers, parochial books, civil registers of births and deaths, household registers, property tax registers, various publications of the Catholic Church in Bulgaria, and ethnographic field material collected by the author. The methodology employed combines various qualitative methods: the gatekeeper and snowball methods, structured and semi-structured interviews, the biographical method and the comparative method. The analysis shows that the nuns’ institution can be treated as a turning point at which female tactics turn into strategies and bring about certain power shifts affecting gender relations.