This site was created for several projects, enlisted below. Gradually it expanded and now includes another text, among them the papers presented at the conference “Literature: dominant voices, subaltern voices" (2015), translations prepared in the framework of the MP “Translator-editor” in University of Sofia, etc. It is still a work in progress.

Nikolay Aretov

Joint interdisciplinary project


Institute for Literature, Institute of Sociology, Institute for Balkan Studies

Supported by National Science Fond

The goal of this interdisciplinary research project is to examine the emotional content of Bulgarian national identity from different perspectives - historical, socio-cultural and socio-psychological. We will investigate the importance of group emotion (e.g. admiration, pride, shame, fear, (in)security, etc.) as a product (and generator) of social identity and social context, and as a mediator of social action and political participation.

We will apply an integration of social identity theory (together with its developments), and of intergroup emotion theory. Our main objectives are:

    1. To identify the emotional components of the Bulgarian national identity and how they relate to other key identities (personal, gender, religious, etc.) as well as to the process of European integration.
    1. To explore how the international comparative context affects both the character of the collective emotions and the salience of the national identities.
    2. To investigate how the audience to which identity is being exposed affects both the character of the collective emotions and the salience of the national identities.
    3. To demonstrate whether it is possible to deliberately produce certain shifts in some of the emotional components of the (Bulgarian) national identity.
    4. To investigate the interdependence between the occurrence in the society of internal (semi)structural cleavages and the strength and emotional "colouring" of the national identity.

The defined objectives will be realized by two types of activities:
A) Explorative work: text materials investigation (archives, text books, literature) and field studies;
B) Seminars, workshops and international conference.

The project will address: scientific community; teachers and students; general public; policy makers and journalists. We will organize: a) an international conference "Sites of Memory: Emotions and Passions", b) four seminars with foreign scholars, c) two workshops led by a foreign scholar, d) workshop with teachers. We also plan to publish a book, a series of articles in academic journals and newspapers, and a policy paper.

Key words: Emotions, Pride, Shame, National identity, European identity, Identity crisis, Balkan region, Cultural memory.

Prof. Dr Nikolay Aretov - Institute for Literature
Prof. Dr Rumyana Damyanova - Institute for Literature
Prof. Dr Nadya Danova - Institute for Balkan Studies
Prof. Dr Pepka Boyajieva - Institute of Sociology
Prof. Dr Krastina Petkova - Institute of Sociology
Prof. Dr Galin Gornev - Institute of Sociology
Assoc. prof. PhD Raia Zaimova - Institute for Balkan Studies
Assoc. prof. PhD Radoslava Ilcheva - Institute for Literature
PhD Teodora Karamelska - Institute of Sociology
PhD Анна Алексиева - Institute for Literature
Diana Nenkova - Institute of Sociology
Gergana Doncheva - Institute for Balkan Studies
Maria Dimitrova - University of Sofia



Interdisciplinary Project

Balkan Identities in Bulgarian Culture from the Modern Times (19th -20th centuries)

Supported by Open Society Fond

Interdisciplinary project "Balkan identities" started in 2000. It involved scholars from several scientific institutes of BAS, Sofia University, professors from other universities, researchers from abroad - Serbia, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Slovakia, France, Belgium, Poland. In 2002 the project was adopted by the Scientific Council of the Institute of Literature at BAS and became part of the long-term plans of the Institute.

In 2002 the project was extended by the joint project of the Institute of Literature at BAS and Institut Slawistyki PAN: "Problems of National and Cultural Identity. Bulgaria and neighbors.


The observations are based on the printed texts in their widest social frameworks - literature, journalism, drama, memoirs, oral public speech (if reserved in newspapers issued Members, etc.) In some cases such as source base are used handwritten documents folklore texts and visual objects.


Multilateral examining the different types of identities present in the Bulgarian culture of 19th – 20th century (ethnic, religious, regional, occupational, age, sex, etc.), the motives of different self-identifications and interactions between them.

Social impact:

The project aims to influence the attitudes of society and the thinking of people on issues related to identity. It focuses on the various strata of society, with special attention to several target groups that are actively opinion makers - teachers, academics, journalists, writers and artists.

Special emphasis in the project is on the textbooks of humanities disciplines (history, literature, Bulgarian).



New Approaches in the University teaching of the issues of the Balkan Identities

Supported by Open Society Fond

Nowadays the issue of the identities, of the identities of Bulgarians and of the Balkan identities is animatedly discussed at numerous interdisciplinary forums. Different aspects of the issue are part of numerous university courses:
- Philology (all courses dedicated to the history of literature, history of language, etc.
- History
- Art (all histories of different arts)
- Philosophy and psychology (identity is a psychological notion)
- Sociology (social aspects of national, grope, gender, etc identity are widely discussed in the media.
The unproductive diversity of texts and opinions on the subject of (Balkan) identities could be traced in all levels of the public dialog and in any discourse - from violent everyday dispute through prejudiced and incompetent media analysis to incompetent and prejudiced analysis in the media and scholarly works. The clash between the 'instrumentalist' and 'primordial' view of the identities is in the focus of the today's Bulgarian debate in humanities. The same unproductive diversity can be noticed in the university teaching.
The same unproductive diversity could be perceived in the university teaching. The attempts to build common terminology and scholarly instruments to deal with the problem must start from here.

1. Introducing the important issue of Balkan identities in different courses, either directly dealing with the problem or dedicated to another topic.
2. Examination of the existing approaches to the issue in different courses, in different programs and in different universities.
3. Co-ordinating the different approaches and elaborating an interdisciplinary methodology. In perspective we should try to apply the same approach to other problems important for the university teaching in humanity.
4. Preparing a textbook that could be used in different courses.


Third stage

Identity and Historical Myths

This second stage of the project Balkan Identities in Bulgarian Culture from the Modern Times prolongs the observations of the first stage and tries to use the same methodological basis (even more strictly) and will be realised throw the same means: international workshops, seminars, web-publications at the existing web-page and publications of special volumes (when and if a financial grand is available).

  • Second stage of the project is focused on historical myths as material for building of different identities: national, but also religious, local (with reference to some regions inside the state), regional (with reference to wider regions, such as Balkans, Eastern Europe), etc. Identities with references on gender, age, social gropes, etc and their mythology will be kept in mind but they will be topic of a next stage of the project.
    In this context we think of historical myths are longer or shorter narratives about historical figures and events; these narratives reoccur in specific situations they are perceived as important for a community and in this sense they are part of its mythology. These narratives are going to be traced in literature, in folk-lore, in historiography and other domains (anthropological, folk-lore, linguistic, art studies, etc), in journalism and mass-consciousness. The Project will try to deal with music, art, cinema, etc, and will look for scholars working in these fields. The aim is to scrutinize all kids of texts and phenomena as a whole, as one ideological structure. The accent will fall at Bulgarian and Balkan text from 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. They will become object of explicit and/or implicit parallels with analogical phenomena in other European cultures. Competing variations of national mythology end their ups and downs in time will be also in the focus.

    Main topics
    Foundation (ethnogenetic) myths
    Appropriation of figures and events with other ethnic origin (Alexander the Great)
    Founders and their deeds (Khan Asparukh)
    Lawgivers and their deeds (Khan Krum)
    Warriors and their deeds (Defenders of "own" territories, conquerors of new territories, unifiers.)
    Heterodoxal figures in religious life (Pop Bogomil). Myths about them and their alternative history (Petar Danov).
    Baptizers, apostles and religious teachers. (Cyril and Methodius)
    Ottoman conquest - the main trauma in the mythology of Balkan Christians.
    Heroes of the resistance against Ottomans. (Marko Kralevic, Mark, the King's son)
    Haidouks, rebels and revolutionary men. April uprising, Christo Botev.
    Enlighteners and their deeds. National revival.
    Constructors of the new Bulgarian state
    Wars. Feats of arms and traumas.
    Communists and 'anti-fascist' resistance.
    Decedents and contemporary history.
    Figures in cultural life (P. Yavorov, Gyaurov)
    Figures in sport life.
    Historical myths of minorities and other smaller communities.
    Historical myths of super-national communities (Slavs, Balkan Christians, Balkansm Eastern Europe).

    General topics
    Mythology and history
    Modern mythology
    Genesis of historical myths and mechanisms for their imposing
    Foreign models and influences
    School text-books, historiography, newspapers and media and historical myths
    Universal, regional and specific in historical myths
    Historical mystifications and forgeries


Joint research project

Problems of National and Cultural Identities: Bulgaria and Neighbors

(With Institute of Slavonic Studies (Polish Academy of Sciences)

Present state of knowledge in the field, significance and objectives of the joint research:
The problem is extremely actual both in its scholar and social aspects. At the present moment different scholars and gropes in Bulgaria, in Poland and in other places in Europe intensively deal with it. The participants are convinced that the needed interdisciplinary approach could be built on the ground of modern literary criticism and the scholar’s methods elaborated in Bulgaria and Poland.

Key words: identity, nationalism, mythology, interrelations

Background of cooperation and envisaged results and benefit:
The simularity of the approaches, methods and aims that scholars in both Institutes use and have in view, the opportunity for exchange of information and for promoting the research work of the partnering Institutes in front the scholar’s community in Bulgaria and Poland.
Literary criticism, social studies and ethnology in Poland have serious contribution in the dealing with the problems of identities, myths and social structures. Bulgarian literary criticism and humanities too have the ambition to contribute in the complex problems of Balkan studies.

Relation to other projects (partners, titles, duration, and funding):
The Project “Problems of National and Cultural Identities: Bulgaria and Neighbors” is similar and in relation with the Polish project in progress “National Idea as a Research Problem” elaborated in the Institute of Slavonic Studies (Polish Academy of Sciences) as a part of a long standing program and with the Bulgarian project “Balkan Identities in Bulgarian Culture from the Modern Times” coordinated by N. Aretov and granted by Open Society Foundation. The Bulgarian project is going to finish in 2003.
The coordinators of the Project intend to make it a base for an international scholar’s program with participants from Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, etc.