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CAS Discussion Series: Anachronism or regularity? Studying the Communist Regime in Bulgaria in the Context of “Transitional Justice”

The ninth seminar of the CAS Discussion Series “Policies of the Rule of Law” took place on 26 March 2021 through the Zoom platform, with a lecture by Prof. Dr. Evelina Kelbetcheva.

The lecture traces the history of the study and evaluation of the communist regime in Bulgaria, and in particular the battle for its adequate representation in school curricula and textbooks. This process, which should have started immediately after the fall of the communist regime, only found – at least in declaration – a legal basis in 2000 with the adoption of the Law on Declaring the Communist Regime Criminal. But concrete success in reforming history education was achieved in 2019, thirty years after the Wall came down. Against the backdrop of the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Totalitarianism, initiated by Vaclav Havel and Joachim Gauck in 2008, and its adoption and ratification in the country, the Bulgarian experience is seen as an anachronistic development in comparison with other Eastern Bloc countries.

Prof. Dr. Evelina Kelbecheva is a professor at the American University in Bulgaria, Blagoevgrad. She has been teaching European and Bulgarian history since 1996. Between 2002-2005, she was a Jean Monnet Title Holder. She graduated in History and Archaeology at Sofia University. She has a degree in Archaeology and History from the University of St. Kliment Ohridski. She was a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Professor at the University of California, Irvine (1992-1996). She is a 2014 fellow of the Center for Advanced Study, Sofia. Since 2014, she has been a member of the Publishing Board of the academic series Balkan Studies Forum, Southwestern University Neofit Rilski, Blagoevgrad, a SCOPUS-recognized publication. Her interests are in the study of myths and falsifications in history in the modern era, as well as historical and cultural identity in the post-totalitarian period.