Title: Between Two Motherlands: Struggle for Nationhood among the Greeks in Bulgaria, 1906-1949
Name: Theodora Dragostinova
390 South Church St.
Athens, GA 30605
(706) 613-1877
tdragostinova@yahoo.com
Year: 2004
Type: Dissertation Fellowship
Summary:

"Between Two Motherlands: Struggles for Nationhood among the Greeks in Bulgaria, 1906-1949," examines the Greek community in Bulgaria and its transformation from a prominent minority into a marginalized refugee population after resettlement in Greece. Its history illustrates the tension between nationality as a form of cultural affinity and national ideology as a political doctrine in the twentieth century: the Bulgarian Greeks considered themselves heirs of the ancient Greek colonists and identified with the Greek nation, yet they had an ambiguous attitude towards the Greek Kingdom and hesitated to abandon their places of birth in Bulgaria. There were various degrees of national commitment among individuals, and only during military conflicts, forced population movements, and assimilation campaigns did the active espousal of nationality become imperative. The minority felt increasingly pressured to identify with a territorially bounded nation-state after a series of pogroms in 1906, the Balkan Wars and World War One, an interwar population exchange between Bulgaria and Greece, and the experience of occupation during World War Two. Yet national allegiances remained profoundly unstable and flexible throughout the period, as is evident in the conflicting ideas of national belonging articulated among the Bulgarian Greeks. This observation allows the researcher to analyze national identity--"emergency identity"-- which interprets the ubiquitous national rhetoric as a discourse of entitlement in emergency situations that affected the physical integrity and social position of individuals.

This dissertation depicts the predicament of people trapped by the overwhelming power of national ideology yet able to navigate the difficult reality of "everyday nationalism" with dignity and resourcefulness. How did nationalization worked on the neighborhood or village level, and how did the population responded to official attempts to create a homogenous national body? The contribution this work is to reveal the more quotidian and ultimately normal aspects of nationalization and emigration and thus to refute the theory of the "Balkan powder keg."

Ultimately, this research engages studies of empire, nationalism, migration, everyday life, and memory and history to demonstrate the indeterminacy of national belonging and to emphasize human agency during turbulent historical events.