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Valentina Mitkova

This article focuses on Bulgarian women writers’ activities, their reception, and their problematic existence in the context of the modernizing and emancipatory trends in Bulgarian society after the Liberation (1878–1944). The analysis is based on the concept of the (intellectual) hierarchy of genders and mechanisms of gender tutelage, traced in the specifics of women’s literary texts, their critical and public resonance, and the authors’ complicated relation with the Bulgarian literary canon. The question is topical, given the noticeable absence of women writers in the corpus of Bulgarian authors/ literary texts, thought and among those considered representative in terms of national identity and culture. The study is based on primary source materials such as works by Bulgarian women writers, the periodical press from the period, various archival materials, and scholarly publications relevant to the topic.

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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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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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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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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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Socialist Secularism

Religion, Modernity, and Muslim Women's Emancipation in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, 1945–1991

Pamela Ballinger and Kristen Ghodsee

This article uses the examples of socialist Bulgaria and Yugoslavia to propose some new directions for rethinking scholarly understandings of “secularism” and the ways in which socialist secularizing projects were intricately intertwined with questions of gender equality. Current scholarly debates on the genealogy of secularism root its origins in the Catholic/Protestant West, and systematically ignore cases from the former communist world. This article takes two cases of Balkan states to explore the theoretical contours of what we call “socialist secularism.” Although Bulgaria and Yugoslavia’s experiences of socialist secularism differed in the degree of their coerciveness, this article examines the similarities in the conceptualization of the secularizing imperative and the rhetoric used to justify it, specifically the rhetoric of communist modernism and women’s liberation from religious backwardness.

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The Krŭchma, the Kafene, and the Orient Express

Tobacco, Alcohol, and the Gender of Sacred and Secular Restraint in Bulgaria, 1856-1939

Mary Neuburger

This article explores shifts in patterns of consumption of alcohol and tobacco in Bulgaria, with a focus on public establishments in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century. In exploring both the gender dimension of such shifts and its religious implications, the article argues that public consumption of tobacco in particular both reflected and was constitutive of dramatic historical change. At the same time, the increased consumption of such culturally fraught substances provoked an increase in both religious and secular campaigns of “restraint,” in which gender played a key role.

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Parting the 'Wine Lake'

The Revival of the Bulgarian Wine Industry in the Age of CAP Reform

Yuson Jung

Europe has been suffering from an overproduction of wine and declining wine consumption, which has compelled the EU commission to handle unsold and unconsumed wine in Europe. This article explores the implications of the recent wine reform (part of CAP reform) of the European Union from the perspectives of the Bulgarian wine producers. Bulgaria is one of the newest members of the EU and its wine industry has traditionally been oriented towards the export sector, making it susceptible to agricultural and trade policies in national, international and supranational levels. How will the Bulgarian wine industry benefit from and/or suffer from the agricultural policies of the EU to which it now subjects itself as a member state? What are the limits of the discourse of multifunctional agriculture in the EU for these marginal wine producers? The efficacy of the CAP reform will depend on attending to the diverse historical and political legacies of the member states without sacrificing the more marginalised communities.

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Muslim Pilgrims at the Orthodox Christian Monastery in Hadzhidimovo

Studies on Religious Anti-syncretism in the Western Rhodopes, Bulgaria

Magdalena Lubanska

This essay questions the thesis of the supposed syncretic nature of the religion of Bulgarian-speaking Muslims, an idea still espoused in Bulgarian ethnography and popular among the Rhodope Christian population. It examines the Muslim motivations for attending Christian holy places in the Rhodopes, particularly the Monastery of St George in Hadzhidimovo, to gather evidence from the actual participants. It shows that the local Muslims and Christians offer incompatible interpretations of the Muslim practice. Furthermore, it takes into account Muslim and Christian testimonies on how Muslims behave in the monastery of St George, and how their gestures are interpreted by both groups. Although the Muslim narratives betray a rather anti-syncretic attitude to Christianity, the Christians sometimes tend to see them as actual crypto-Christians. In my conclusions I stake out a position in the recent polemic between Glenn Bowman and Robert Hayden concerning the specificity of interactions between dissenters at sacred shrines.

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Between Ordinary Pain and Extraordinary Knowledge

The Seer Vanga in the Everyday Life of Bulgarians during Socialism (1960s-1970s)

Galia Valtchinova

This article focuses on a little-known aspect of everyday life in socialist Bulgaria: the act of consulting a clairvoyant for health issues, thereby dealing with the broader process of medicalisation of healing. It is grounded on files from consultations with the renowned Bulgarian seer, prophetess and healer baba Vanga, which were collected between 1966 and 1974. These highly specifi c historical sources allow me to analyse late twentieth-century ideas and notions of health and disease, of pain and suffering, and thus to access social realities, cultural practices and representations of healing under socialism. By scrutinising the categories used in these records, the article delineates the relationship between the seer-healer, her patients, and the state institutions involved in the regulation of this process.