More than 20 years since the fall of Communism, Bulgarian society is still fighting to make an adequate and informed assessment of its recent past. Communism has passed behind, but it has not been cast off. There are still networks and links between the old Communist regime and the present-day political or public figures it spawned. Our society has no clear consciousness of what is right and what is wrong; what is the constitution of the authentic values of democracy and what is inconsistent with them.
Every day we encounter signs in different areas of life, aimed at the tacit rehabilitation of events, people, or cultural traits of the Communist regime. Of course, one can say that these are isolated cases that cannot change the direction of our social/political development, but the accumulation of such exceptions has led to considerable confusion in Bulgarian public life and especially in the education of the younger generation. Bulgarians face the danger of bypassing history or, more accurately, of history bypassing them.
Main Partners and Donors:
- Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe
- Open Society Institute
- Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”
- Sofa Platform
ABOUT THE INSTITUTION
The Institute for Studies of the Recent Past is a none-governmental research organization founded in 2005 by Prof. Ivaylo Znepolski, lecturer at St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia, Dimitry Panitza, chairman of the Free and Democratic Bulgaria Foundation and Lenko Lenkov, historian.
The Institute encourages and supports research of modern Bulgarian history.
With the normalization of our political life, current verbal condemnations of Communism appear obsolete; they are prone to upset people and trigger accusations of primitive anti-Communism. We need to get beyond the superficial and provide, through serious studies of specific periods, events, social groups and people, a fresh view of the history of Communist ideas and Communist rule in Bulgaria.
The Institute, relying on the achievements of modern social and humanitarian sciences, is studying the Communist regime as thoroughly as possible, not only as an ideological and political phenomenon, but also from a historical, psychological, social, and even anthropological point of view. The crimes of the regime have to be explicitly named, but its changes over the years also need to be analysed, in order to reveal the model’s hidden similarities and persistency.
Daily life under the Communist system needs to be studied in detail: its labour practices; its social policies; its tough and milder forms of repression; its family life; the structure and operation of the Communist Party; the clashes of interests and controversies within it; the relationship between the party’s leadership and its base membership; the state of its cultural and intellectual life and the different forms of resistance, from passive disagreement to all-out dissidence; and the dynamics of the relationship between the regime and society as a whole
Conduct research projects of different periods of modern Bulgarian history and provide organizational and financial support for teams of scientists or experts, as well as individual researchers, assigned to do this work.
Provide scientific, methodological and financial support for young specialists working in the field of modern Bulgarian history, including short-term grants and special seminars.
Publish books based on the results of research projects carried out by the Institute or thematically related to its interests.
Hold conferences and seminars based on the Institute’s research projects or on related topics.
Organize exhibitions, thematically linked to modern Bulgarian history, as well as eventually founding a museum with documents and artefacts from the recent past.
Foster cooperation with similar institutions in other Eastern and Central European countries and Russia, in order to share expertise and work on joint research projects.
Establish a comprehensive database in the field of modern Bulgarian history, through questionnaires, interviews, archival studies, and a thorough examination of memoirs and books covering the period.
Present the results of the research teams’ work to interested educational and other public institutions, as well as maintain a constant effort to disseminate them to the general public.
President of the Institute and Scientific Director of Research Programmes: Prof. Ivaylo Znepolski
Academic Advisory Council:
- Tzvetan Todorov Paris: political philosopher, corresponding member of the Institute;
- Ivan Elenkov: historian and cultural theoretician, Assoc. Prof. at Sofia University
- Georgi Gospodinov: writer and publicist, research associate at the Literature Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences;
- Roumen Daskalov: historian, anthropologist, professor at Central European University Budapest and New Bulgarian University;
- Daniela Koleva: anthropologist, professor at the Sofia University;
- Martin Ivanov: historian, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of History
- Daniel Vatchkov: historian, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of History
- Alexander Vezenkov: historian
- Michail Gruev: historian, Assoc. Prof. at the Sofia University, Faculty of History
- Momtchil Metodiev: historian, editor of the Christianity and Culture Journal