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Managing Invisibility

Dissimulation and Identity Maintenance among Alevi Bulgarian Turks

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Hande Sözer

In Managing Invisibility, Hande Sözer examines complicated invisibilities of Alevi Bulgarian Turks, a double-minority which faces structural discrimination in Bulgaria and Turkey. While the literature portrays minorities’ visibility as a requirement for their empowerment or a source of their surveillance, the book argues that for such minorities what matters is their control over their own visibility. To make this point, it focuses on the concept protective dissimulation, a strategy of self-imposed invisibility. It discusses cases indicating Alevi Bulgarian Turks’ strategies of dealing with historically changing majorities in their larger societies and argues that dissimulation actually reinforces the intergroup distinctions for the minority’s members. The data for the book was gathered during 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Bulgaria and Turkey.
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Identity, Nationalism, and Cultural Heritage under Siege

Five Narratives of Pomak Heritage — From Forced Renaming to Weddings

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Fatme Myuhtar-May

In Identity, Nationalism, and Cultural Heritage under Siege, Fatme Myuhtar-May makes a case for the recognition of Pomak heritage by presenting five stories from the past and present of the Rhodope Muslims in Bulgaria as examples of a distinct Pomak culture. The stories range from the Christianisation during the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 and the forced communist renaming of the Pomaks in the 1970s, to their fascinating wedding rituals and historic figures. Each of the five narratives contains its own storyline and serves as a prominent example of Pomak heritage, from the author’s perspective. The stories take place in the context of fervent nationalism and the ongoing censorship of Pomakness based on the claim that it is an “ethnic Bulgarian,” not “Pomak” heritage.