Boyan Dumanov

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Boyan Dumanov

Boyan Dumanov ([email protected]), New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria), has been the acting Chair of the Department of Archeology at the New Bulgarian University since 2012. His research career started at Sofia University “St Kliment Ohridski” (1999-2003) where he defended his doctoral thesis in 2003. In 2004 Dr. Dumanov became a full time lecturer at the Department of Archeology at the New Bulgarian University, setting the Department policy of attracting young and promising researchers. Dr. Dumanov’s research interests are mainly in the field of Late Antique Archeology, the Great Migration, Medieval Bulgaria and Byzantium and focus mainly on issues of applied arts, ruler ideology, ethnic identity, settlement patterns and migration. In recent years, Dr. Dumanov has been particularly focusing on the interaction between politics and archeology, the influence of the political status quo in archeology and science as an object of political action.

Opening Conference:

Archaeology in the Service of State: Interwar actions and Postwar transformations in Bulgaria

The archaeological research and the associated interest to the antiquities in Bulgarian lands started to grow immediately after the end of the Russian-Ottoman war (1877-78) and the Congress of Berlin that set the beginning of the modern Bulgarian state. The Bulgarian enthusiasts being inspired by the works on Balkan antiquities of European historians, archaeologists, ethnographers, etc. from the second half of 19th c soon founded archaeological societies and organizations that gradually grew into official state institutions. Russian, West- and Central European universities have provided the academic background of the first Bulgarian professionals who immediately began to organize field surveys and excavations and to present the Old Bulgarian heritage at international forums. Along with these enterprises the uses of the past also started with the funding of the first large scale excavations in Plisca by the Russian Imperial Archaeological Institute in Constantinople. The Imperial Institute intended to present the site as very representative and important part of the common Slavonic and Orthodox culture and commonwealth in favor of the Russian political interests on the East Balkans. The intentional demonstration of these interests and especially the Serb-Bulgarian War (1885) have caused the deep division of Bulgarian society between Russophiles and Russophobes – a process that went on with the beginning and ignition of WWI. The young Bulgarian archaeology had to face up to the intentions of nation-state political authorities to use the past for nationalistic ideological and sometimes chauvinistic purposes as well as the legitimization of territorial pretentions being based on historical ground. During the Interwar period Bulgarian archaeologists participated in most of the inner sociopolitical discussions. Most of them however being involved with Prehistory and Classical studies refused to contribute the creation of “deep Bulgarian Antiquity” or processes similar to the ones that ran in Interwar Germany where the idea about “Germanentum” has been constructed. Other scholars who served some ideas about the originality of Medieval Bulgarian culture have contributed to the general political ideological framework concerning the emancipation from Byzantium, but in the late 30’s even the most radical ones admitted its affiliation to the Byzantine Commonwealth. Most notably the archaeologists being armed with best facts and arguments refused to participate in the hot issue about the purity of “Bulgarian race” thus leaving the actual racial discussions in the field of biology and philosophy. Actually the Interwar Bulgaria provides an instance in which archaeology was rarely officially used for nationalistic purposes, however sometimes been manipulated and interpreted for such purposes. Prior the end of the WWII and the establishment of Communist regime archaeology was a well-developed discipline in Bulgaria aided in part by scholars from Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Czechoslovakia. In turn Bulgarian archaeologists were regarded as credible investigators at the international forums. Since 1948 and especially 1950 the archaeology in Bulgaria has been stimulated by the Communist governmental policy to make a radical effort to include archaeology as important part of the political education of the people and to transform itself from “science for the people into People’s science”. Initially the organization of the archaeological research in Postwar Bulgaria reflects the tendencies concerning the reformation of all humanities. Under the disguise of the dialectic terms of Marxism the archaeological research reflected the beginning of new nationalistic policy. The old and still influential scholars were forced to change their minds towards the new tendencies and their main goal became the quest for the Bulgarian autochthonous ancestry and the forge of the “Trinity” theory.