Beyond Nation? A Thrice-Told Tale from Bulgaria’s Postsocialist Soundstage

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This article juxtaposes musical and dramatic productions popularized by three prominent Bulgarian national folkloric ensembles during the 2000s to illuminate the perspectival dialogues on nation at play within Bulgarian artistic communities. While presentations by the National Folkloric Ensemble “Bŭlgare” traffic in timeworn but disturbingly powerful primordialist appeals to ethnonationalist sentiment, those of rhythmic gymnast Neshka Robeva’s company “Neshanŭl Art” sidestep and extend the concept of nation by resituating local choreography and movement in a diaspora of international venues and transnational genres. Most strikingly, through strategically composed and choreographed works that call upon diverse regional and international folkloric and popular culture styles, including those of minority populations, the National Folkloric Ensemble “Philip Kutev” is deliberately performing against gender and ethnonationalist stereotypes in favor of productions cosmopolitan in form and postnationalist in content. In so doing, they are redefining the very essence of “national” folklore in direct defiance of a lingering socialist-era cultural policy legacy, while simultaneously parrying market tensions, touristic expectations, and dwindling governmental support.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalAnthropology of East Europe Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Bulgaria
  • folkloric ensembles
  • music
  • nationalism
  • performance
  • postsocialism
  • representation
  • reterritorialization
  • subjunctivity

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