Duration: 2019 – 2025
CAS starts this new programme in October 2019 to ensure the continuation of the Advanced Academia fellowships for senior Bulgarian scholars, originally funded by the America for Bulgaria Foundation. The fellowships are named after the American philanthropist and bibliophile Carl H. Pforzheimer III, benefactor to the programme. Mr. Phorzheimer has been an abiding member (now Co-Chairman Emeritus) of the Board of Directors of America for Bulgaria Foundation, as well as a long-lasting and staunch supporter of the Centre for Advanced Study Sofia.
The programme provides three 5-month scholarships per year for outstanding senior Bulgarian researchers and university professors.
Calls are announced every year in November on the CAS web-page.
Comparative and interdisciplinary analyses of medical texts concerning coughing of phlegm: from the second Millennium BCE Mesopotamia, over Ashurbanipal to Hippocrates
Strahil V. Panayotov (2023 - 2024)
I identified and deciphered unpublished cuneiform tablet from the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. Surprisingly, the Middle Babylonian text (ca. 1500-1200 BCE) turned out to be a forerunner to a medical treatise on Bronchial complaints from the Nineveh Medical Encyclopaedia. The latter is the foremost collection of therapeutic writings from the Ashurbanipal Royal Library (7th century BCE), and the most important compendium of medical literature before Hippocrates. Moreover, cuneiform therapies against coughing phlegm as recorded on the Baghdad tablet bear unmistakable similarities to practices from the Hippocratic Corpus (post 4th century BCE). These sources offer a unique opportunity for medical historians, since we can now clearly see that therapies recorded in the Graeco-Roman world were in use in the Ancient Near East, even during the 2nd Millennium BCE.The project aims to scrutinize the Baghdad tablet in context. The Mesopotamian evidence will be compared and juxtaposed with similar practices from the Graeco-Roman world, but also beyond, since we are aware from other case studies that common therapies circulated throughout the ancient world. Furthermore, these similarities will be interdisciplinary discussed with real doctors, who will provide more medical context. The results will be published in a peer-reviewed paper.
The Orthodox Church as a Driver of Modernization: Bulgarian Church in a European Setting between the Two World Wars
Momchil Metodiev (2023 - 2024)
The aim of the project is to explore whether and to what extent the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was part of the general trend, characteristic for other European churches (regardless of denomination), for taking part and supporting the modernization projects in their respective countries. The question seems to be important, on the one hand because it remains generally unexplored in the historical literature. It seems important also because nowadays the tradition of Church involvement in social work and modernization projects in Bulgaria is completely lost, mainly as a result of the official prohibition imposed on these activities by the communist authorities. Last but not least, because most of the contemporary Orthodox churches think of themselves as the custodians of an imagined conservative tradition and could hardly rethink their past in such a context.
Muslim b. al-Ḥajjāj of Nishapur (d. 261 H/875 CE) is famous for his al-Musnad al-ṣaḥīḥ (The Sound collection). The Ṣaḥīḥ is a compilation of traditions (ḥadīth) going back to the Prophet Muḥammad (d. 11 H/632 CE) that Sunni Muslims regard as the third most authoritative source of legal norms after the Qurʾān and Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl al-Bukhārī’s (194–256 H/810–70 CE) ḥadīth collection al-Jāmiʿ al-ṣaḥīḥ. Muslim ranks among the founders of the science of ḥadīth criticism. Despite his renown, Muslim’s life and works came only sporadically to the attention of Western ḥadīth scholarship while arabophone studies have been restricted by the apologetic perception of Muslim.The present project studies Muslim’s life, works, theology, and method in ḥadīth criticism based on a wide range of biographical sources and ḥadīth collections. These sources are studied by a variety of text-critical approaches, including the method of ‘compilation criticism’. For the first time Muslim’s theological views are studied in a systematic manner, which offers a glimpse in the development of the early Sunni theology. Four works by Muslim that were considered lost will be reconstructed from hitherto neglected later sources. A detailed study of the transmission of Muslim’s Ṣaḥīḥ is part of the project, which is expected to result in the publication of a peer-reviewed article and a monograph about Muslim in English.
Ancient Magic in the Age of the Enlightenment: Medieval book amulets as textbooks and popular reading among the Bulgarians in the 18th–19th centuries
Angel Nikolov (2021 - 2022)
The project focuses on the late transformations, marginalization and disappearance of an older medieval tradition characteristic of the culture of Orthodox Bulgarians, Serbs and Vlachs: the copying and carrying as apotropaia of small–format manuscript miscellanies (‘book amulets’) containing Slavic translations of various apocrypha, prayers, as well as calendar, divination, prognostic, medicinal and other works, each perceived as a textual amulet. In the 18th and 19th centuries, these ‘magical’ texts were frequently used to teach children, but the practice was gradually discontinued with the development of a modern school system based on printed textbooks and dominated by secular teachers dedicated to modernizing Bulgarian society along pro–European, rational and pragmatic lines. However, interest in this type of literature declined slowly due to the strong belief in its special protective powers, as evidenced by the numerous printed editions of some of the most popular textual amulets in the form of small pamphlets of the second half of the 19th century. Thus, the project aims to explore, by means of a case study, how the modernization of society sealed the fate of some traditional worldviews and beliefs whose roots could be traced back to the cultural traditions of the ancient Middle East and the Greco–Roman Mediterranean.
Between Nostalgia and Negation: Understanding the Social Change in Socialist Bulgaria
Martin Ivanov (2021 - 2022)
Three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall Bulgarians are still on the crossroad between nostalgia and negation, seemingly unable to construct an overall picture of their socialist past. Importantly, we still lack a thorough study on the characteristics of social change that was accomplished by the socialist regime.Understanding the dynamics, the magnitude, and the thoroughness of the social change, which transformed Bulgarian society in the half-century after the World War II would be the prime task of this research project. Due to various reasons it would restrain from the conventional approach and instead would go along the new current in the academic literature, which applies alternative measures of standard of living like (1) real wages, (2) infant mortality, (3) life expectancy at birth, (4) daily calories intake, and (5) anthropometric data (height and weight) of children and adolescents.Given the near-complete infancy of Bulgarian research on the subject it would be naïve to pretend that it could master a full understanding of the social change. Rather, this proposal is a first stage of a larger and continuous research which has to be confined to a less ambitious scouting exercise for mapping the data scene and initial analysis of the preliminary findings.
Literature and Historiography: Public Scandals over Curricula and Textbooks in Bulgaria (1992–2019)
Albena Hranova (2020 - 2021)
This project is designed to study the Bulgarian public scandals in the 1992–2019 period related to education in history and literature. After the end of communist rule, education had to undergo institutional depoliticization until the development of new curricula; such were elaborated in 1999–2000, and then in 2016. The five major scandals to be studied under this project erupted consecutively in three stages and bound, in a different way, history and literature together into a common field of national mythology where public opinion formulated its notions of “truth” and “manipulation”, values, national ideals, and so on. Those symptomatic scandals have not been studied in their own right to date, and, besides, public opinion surveys on education issues are a recent phenomenon not only in Bulgaria. Using interdisciplinary research methods and main concepts such as public space of history, conceptual history, national mythology, and text figuratives to analyse the public language of the scandals in question, the project aims to reconstruct the plots of those scandals with a view to their concrete political contexts; to observe the viewpoints of the institutions involved and the public reactions, and the specific points of their intersections and correspondence; to identify their impact on institutional policies; to take into consideration their long-term resonance in the statements of public opinion in Bulgaria.
A Different Approach into the Philosophical Anthropology: Rethinking the Human through its Antonyms
Christo Stoev (2020 - 2021)
This is a project in the sphere of philosophical anthropology to be conducted mainly through the methods of ordinary language philosophy, phenomenology, and hermeneutics. It builds on a simple thesis. In order to think through the human in general and to understand our own self-reflective cultural image as humans, we need to consider what we comprehend as opposite or even just different from the human: the inhuman and the nonhuman. As suggested by the two very different words in English our intuitions in this semantic field are divided into two basic types. On one hand, these are intuitions oriented towards that which the human is not (the nonhuman) and on the other hand intuitions towards that which the human should not be (the inhuman/e). These layers respectively reveal the descriptive and normative modes of our thinking on the human condition. The intuitions in question need to be philosophically conceptualized in order to understand their scope, limits, and claim to universality. Thus light can be thrown on the very recent ideas that seem to question our commitment to the humanist ideas. This should provide a more clear-cut interpretation of what it means to strive for a trans-humanist or a post-humanist world.
Is It Possible to Measure Nationalism? Recent Theories of Pervasiveness and Intensity of Nationhood: A Critical Appraisal
Tchavdar Marinov (2020 - 2021)
The present research project seeks to explore the analytical potential but also the limits of the most recent theories of pervasiveness and intensity of national categories, identities, and ideologies. While, conceptually, the project focuses on the theories of ‘national indifference’ and of ‘weak nationalism’ and, geographically, on the Balkan area, its more general ambition is to contribute to the ongoing debates on temporality and social diffusion of nationalism in modern Europe. By crediting ‘national indifference’ an explanatory value, the proposed research tries to understand often obscured by national historians self-identifications and external categorizations of modern and contemporary societies since the late nineteenth century; it surveys practical choices and reasons of (non-)élite populations but it also tackles epistemological problems related to their study. By analyzing the opposition between ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ forms of nationalism, the present project also questions the methodological coherence of this and similar distinctions. Through a critical appraisal of theories, the project attempts to shed light on questions such as the temporal scales of the spread of nationalism, the social logics of loyalty and pragmatism, the relationship between identity and interest as well as the extent to which nationalism is not only qualifiable but also quantifiable.
Hieromonk Panteleimon, Prohegоumenos and Archimandritis of Hilandar Monastery: Style and Language Strategies of an “Excellent Preacher”
Margaret Dimitrova (2019 - 2020)
This project approaches the activities of a 19th-century monk qualified as an “excellent preacher” by a country fellow of him. In Ruse in 1809, Hieromonk Panteleimon, prohegoumenos of Hilandar Monastery, copied Priest Stoiko Vladislavov’s version of Slavonic-Bulgarian History by Paisii of Hilandar. He paraphrased many sentences and added new information, thus generating a new version of the History that became popular. The objectives of the research proposed are five: a) through collation of four manuscript copies of Paisii’s work, to characterize the Vorlage (antigraph) of Panteleimon, that is, the underlying text; b) to examine Panteleimon’s use of additional sources viewed as metatexts; c) to analyze his narrative techniques and choices seen as reflection of his mentality, knowledge and strives of a monk with many duties and various social contacts; d) to study the dissemination of Panteleimon’s version through manuscript copies and to discuss the changes made by later copyists and marginalia of readers showing their attitudes towards the text; e) to design two digital maps: one of Panteleimon’s travelling and another of the copies of his work demonstrating the links amongst them and places in which they were produced and used.