History of the Department

 

The initial project for the development of Ethnology as a university degree at the University of Plovdiv ‘Paisii Hilendarski' was prepared in 1991-1992 by a team of lecturers led by Prof. Todor Ivanov Zhivkov. The project was considered to be an upgrade of the knowledge in the humanities, already developed and established at the University of Plovdiv at the time though the rather advanced for the time research ideas and projects within the field of the social sciences, access to which was made possible thanks to the political changes after 1989. Thus the achievements of the 1990s in the relatively closed academic world found access to university education and turned from a scientific into a scientific-educational project. This is also connected to the idea about the public importance of ethnology and anthropology at times of social change and their role in the study of human communities (ethnic, religious, professional), with a focus on their applied aspects and the use of the results obtained in making management decisions and in developing cultural policies. In this sense, ethnology, and later on social anthropology at the University of Plovdiv traditionally developed in the field of social sciences, rather than the humanities. This is related to the implementation of successful models of scientific and educational traditions of Europe and their adaptation to the specifics of the Bulgarian academic and social system.

The founder of the Department is Prof. Todor Iv. Zhivkov (1937-2001). He was also the first Head of Department (1995-1999), followed by Assoc. Prof. Maria Schnitter (1999-2004). Initially, the Department existed as the Department of Ethnology and Sociology as a part of the Faculty of Philology (1995-2004), and later became a unit within the Faculty of Philosophy and History (since 2004); in 2005 it was transformed into Department of Ethnology and Philosophy (headed by Assoc. Prof. Ivan Hristov), and since 2008 it is a separate Department of Ethnology [headed by Associate Professor Krasimira Krastanova, PhD (2008-2013) and Assoc. Prof. Maria Schnitter – from 2013 onwards].

For the past two decades, the ‘Plovdiv Ethnological School' has managed to overcome the difficulties of the formational stage and has managed to formulate and defend its own research and academic profile in both national and international contexts. In 2006, following the initiative of the Department of Ethnology, a round table on the topic ‘Undergraduate teaching of Ethnology in Bulgaria and European integration' was held, with the participation of all academic and research centres dealing with ethnology in the country, including representatives of the legislative and executive branches of government. ‘The Declaration of the Round Table' captured the common position of the Bulgarian ethnologists with regards to the status of ethnology within academic disciplines.

The scholarly development of our teaching staff is a result of continuous and dedicated involvement in research and educational projects, publications in reputable domestic and foreign scientific journals, as well as the maintenance of regular and fruitful international exchanges. A significant number of our projects have been realized under the auspices of international programmes in which teams have won funding through competitions before prestigious international bodies and commissions (the European Commission for Culture; Programme ‘Culture 2000';  University Agency of Francophones; CEEU – Budapest, Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung – BRD, NEC – Bucharest and others). Of no less importance are the projects supported by the Fund ‘Scientific Research' to the Ministry of Education, the Centre for Human Resources Development and its Programme ‘Lifelong Learning' as part of the European Union and the unit ‘Applied Research' at the University of Plovdiv.