The ethnic and non-ethnic politics of everyday life in Bulgaria's southern borderland

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Ethnicity is found in real-world contexts where non-ethnic forms of identification are available. This conclusion is drawn from an empirical study carried out in the multiethnic town of Kurdzhali in Southern Bulgaria, where members of the Bulgarian majority live alongside the Turkish minority. Drawing on the "everyday nationhood" agenda that aims to provide a methodological toolkit for the study of ethnicity/nationhood without overpredicting its importance, the study involved the collection of survey, interview, and ethnographic data. Against the expectations of some experienced scholars of the Central and Eastern Europe region, ethnic identity was found to be more salient for the majority Bulgarians than for the minority Turks. However, the ethnographic data revealed the importance of a rural-urban cleavage that was not predicted by the research design. On the basis of this finding, I argue that the "everyday nationhood" approach could be improved by including a complementary focus on non-ethnic attachments that have been emphasized by scholarship or journalism relevant to the given context. Rather than assuming the centrality of ethnicity, such an "everyday identifications" approach would start from the assumption that ethnic narratives of identity always have to compete with non-ethnic ones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-489
Number of pages17
JournalNationalities Papers
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations


  • Equality and Inclusion
  • Social Movements and Contentious Politics
  • Faith and Peaceful Relations


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