Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Book: Theodora Dragostinova, Between Two Motherlands

Cornell University Press

Between Two Motherlands
Nationality and Emigration among the Greeks of Bulgaria, 1900-1949
Theodora Dragostinova

In 1900, some 100,000 people living in Bulgaria—2 percent of the
country’s population—could be described as Greek, whether by
nationality, language, or religion. The complex identities of the
population—proud heirs of ancient Hellenic colonists, loyal citizens
of their Bulgarian homeland, members of a wider Greek diasporic
community, devout followers of the Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul,
and reluctant supporters of the Greek government in Athens—became
entangled in the growing national tensions between Bulgaria and Greece
during the first half of the twentieth century.

In Between Two Motherlands, Theodora Dragostinova explores the
shifting allegiances of this Greek minority in Bulgaria. Diverse
social groups contested the meaning of the nation, shaping and
reshaping what it meant to be Greek and Bulgarian during the slow and
painful transition from empire to nation-states in the Balkans. In
these decades, the region was racked by a series of upheavals (the
Balkan Wars, World War I, interwar population exchanges, World War II,
and Communist revolutions). The Bulgarian Greeks were caught between
the competing agendas of two states increasingly bent on establishing
national homogeneity.

Based on extensive research in the archives of Bulgaria and Greece, as
well as fieldwork in the two countries, Dragostinova shows that the
Greek population did not blindly follow Greek nationalist leaders but
was torn between identification with the land of their birth and
loyalty to the Greek cause. Many emigrated to Greece in response to
nationalist pressures; others sought to maintain their Greek identity
and traditions within Bulgaria; some even switched sides when it
suited their personal interests. National loyalties remained fluid
despite state efforts to fix ethnic and political borders by such
means as population movements, minority treaties, and stringent
citizenship rules. The lessons of a case such as this continue to
reverberate wherever and whenever states try to adjust national
borders in regions long inhabited by mixed populations.

Theodora Dragostinova is Assistant Professor of History at The Ohio
State University.

No comments:

Post a Comment