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Fellow seminar: Star Citizens. Alternative Knowledge, Science, and the Search for Meaning in Post-Socialist Bulgaria

16 November 2023 @ 16:30 - 18:30

Victor Petrov (MON Fellow, Oct ‘23 – Jul ‘24) will make his introduction to:

Star Citizens: Alternative Knowledge, Science, and the Search for Meaning in Post-Socialist Bulgaria

on 16 November, 2023 (Thursday) at 16:30 h.

Moderated by Madelaine Angelova-Elchinova.

Abstract: This project investigates the post-socialist boom in ‘phenomena’ in Bulgaria. In 1990, the Bulgarian army started digging for something near Sofia, led by a platoon of clairvoyants. In 1995, thousands flocked to the Ruse airport to await ‘star ambassadors’ from Cepheus. Meanwhile, seers and healers proliferated throughout the nation, flocking to well known mystics such as Vanga but also many newly famous one. Media sensations made household names of poltergeists; publishing and media industries made household names of newly minted alternative histories of the Bulgarians, who were premier ‘star citizens’, imbued with special knowledge. To what extent were such phenomena and their social reception an expression of the newly democratized field of knowledge production and media spectacles? Or were they a reaction to a loss of meaning and disenchantment with worldly utopian projects – both the failed communism and the endlessly receding transition to capitalism? Who could claim truth and how did they defend it? This project combines the histories of late socialism with new research into the post-socialist period to explore the intersection of official and unofficial science and knowledge-making communities. Utilizing archival documents, analysis of literature, digital tools, and oral history, it aims to uncover the role of socialist science and narratives in the shaping of post-1989 narratives around Bulgarian ‘uniqueness’ but also esoteric expectations about spirits, energies, and aliens.


16 November 2023
16:30 - 18:30


Centre for Advanced Study Sofia


Centre for Advanced Study Sofia
7B Stefan Karadzha St, entr. 3
Sofia,‎ ‎1000‎ ‎Bulgaria
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