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Fellows seminar: The Diasporic Experience (Re)Considered: Idioms of Belonging and Transborder Ethnic Kinship within Crimean Tatars in Bulgaria

November 4, 2021 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
7, Stefan Karadja Str., vh.3, ap.23
Sofia, Bulgaria
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Dr. Evlogi Stanchev (MON Fellow, Oct ‘21 – Jun ‘22) will give his introductory talk on the topic:

The Diasporic Experience (Re)Considered: Idioms of Belonging and Transborder Ethnic Kinship within Crimean Tatars in Bulgaria

on 04 November, 2021 (Thursday) at 16:30 h.

Moderated by Prof. Angel Nikolov.

The project aims to reconsider – both theoretically and empirically – the concept of the ‘diaspora’ through investigating how it is experienced in the particular case of the present-day Crimean Tatar community in Bulgaria. The main research objective is to analyze to what extent the sense of transborder ethnic kinship with other Crimean Tatars from abroad (mainly Romania) defines Tatar identity among that local community. Therefore, a special emphasis shall be placed on the collective notions and narratives about Crimea as an imagined ‘common homeland,’ thus, its role as a reference point for experiencing Tatarlık (lit. ‘Tatarness’). Furthermore, of utmost significance for the project is to clarify the various representations about ‘other,’ i.e., non-Crimean Tatars around Eurasia (Volga, Siberian, Astrakhan, etc.) within the group under consideration.

The research tackles the concept of ‘diaspora’ and its various theoretical and methodological contradictions through a reflexive, context-sensitive approach. Within the field of social sciences, the ‘diaspora’ (and its derivatives, e.g. ‘diasporic community,’ ‘diasporic identity,’ etc.) is usually characterized by inertia, as it is defined once-and-for-all, without making further clarifications on its internal ambiguities. This situation poses the risk of methodological essentialization and, thus, semantic blurring of the concept. Therefore, dealing with a local and often neglected case – Bulgaria’s Crimean Tatars and their identity – the current research aims to reconsider the ‘diaspora’ phenomenon in accordance with the latest theoretical achievements of social sciences, as well as some thorough empirical insights.

Methodologically, the project will adhere to an elastic interdisciplinary approach, using some relevant observations from various academic fields (social anthropology, sociology, history), as well as subfields (identity studies, nationalism studies, etc.). The study will rely heavily upon conducting ethnographic fieldwork to gain relevant information about current dynamics concerning Crimean Tatar identity. Thus, the biographical research method is of crucial importance here because, as recent fieldwork of the author showed, among many respondents, the ‘Tatarness’ is evoked mainly as a ‘family memory’ and is inextricably related with genealogical references. As most of the works on the subject offer a non-analytical historical overview or are of descriptive ethnographic character, the research will do its best to fill the considerable gaps in the academic literature so far.

Date: November 4, 2021
Time: 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Venue Name: Centre for Advanced Study
Address: 7, Stefan Karadja Str., vh.3, ap.23
Sofia, Bulgaria

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Organizer Name: Centre for Advanced Study Sofia