UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


The Cold War from the Margins: Bulgaria on the Global Cultural Scene

02 February 2022, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

Cold War from the Margins book cover

An online event with Prof Theodora Dragostinova (Ohio State University), co-organised by the SSEES Southeast European Studies Seminar and the Institute of Historical Research. Discussant: Alex Drace-Francis (University of Amsterdam)

This event is free.

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In the late 1970s-early 1980s, small Bulgaria launched an ambitious international cultural program centered on its celebration of its 1300th anniversary: exhibitions, concerts, museum and monument openings, book readings, film screenings, and other mass cultural events dominated public life at home and abroad. The cultural offensive of the small socialist state  spread to the Balkans, Western Europe and the United States, various countries in the “developing world,” as well as Bulgarian émigré communities throughout the globe. Focusing on Bulgaria’s cultural outreach with India, Mexico, and Nigeria, this talk demonstrates the existence of vibrant partnerships along an East-South axis in the context of the global Cold War, explains the importance of cultural diplomacy in the late socialist period, and challenge notions of the seventies as a period of doom and gloom. Instead, when viewed from the margins, 1970s appeared as a time of measured optimism when the agendas of the East, West, and the Global South dynamically interacted and surprisingly empowered actors on the periphery.

Image credit: Theodora Dragostinova