The Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum at BAS (IEFSEM – BAS) was established in 2010 by a decision of the General Assembly of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences after merging the Institute of Folklore and the Ethnographic Institute with a Museum. As their universal legal successor IEFEM – BAS inherited their history, which had undergone not one or two transformations. The beginning dates back to 1906 when the People’s Ethnographic Museum in Sofia was established as a separate museum from the People’s Museum (established in 1892). The merit of it belongs to the then Minister of National Enlightenment Prof. Ivan Shishmanov, and its first director was Dimitar Marinov. In 1947, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences established an Institute of People’s Studies which, in 1949, merged with the National Ethnographic Museum. The Ethnographic Institute with a Museum was established, with first director Acad. Stoyan Romanski. In 1973, the section of folklore was separated from it, and the Institute of Folklore was established with the director Acad. Petar Dinekov. In 2010, as a result of the reform in the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the two institutes were merged again.
Over the years, the most important names in Bulgarian ethnography and folklore have worked in the institutions whose successor is IEFSEM – BAS: Dimitar Marinov (1846-1940), Acad. Anton Popstoilov (1869-1928), Dr. Evdokia Peteva-Filova (1901-1973), Stefan L. Kostov (1879-1939, corresponding member of BAS), Dr. Krustyu Miiatev (1892-1966), Prof. Hristo Vakarelski (1896-1979, the first Bulgarian laureate of Herder Prize – 1965), Prof. Vasil Stoin (1880-1938), Prof. Rayna Katsarova-Kukudova (1901-1984), Academician Stoyan Romanski 1987), Prof. Dr. Christo N. Gandev (1907–1987), Prof. Tsvetana Romanska (1914–1969), Prof. Maria Veleva (1914-1987), Prof. Rositsa Angelova-Georgieva (1917-1990), Acad. Petar Dinekov (1910-1992), Acad. Veselin Hadjinikolov (1917-2003), Prof. Dr. Georgi Georgiev (1931-1990), Prof. DSc Stoyan Genchev (1936-1990), Prof. DSc Todor Iv. Zhivkov (1938-2001), Academician Nikolay Kaufman (Doctor Honoris Causa of AMDFA in Plovdiv, 2000), Prof. DSc Anna Ilieva, corr.-mem. Prof. Elka Bakalova (winner of the “St. Paisii Hilendarski” State Prize for 2012, the Pythagoras Big Prize for overall contribution to the development of science – 2016), Prof. Stefana Stoykova (Laureate of Herder Prize – 1983), Prof. DSc Radost Ivanova (Laureate of Herder Prize 2002), Prof. DSc Mila Santova (holder of the “Golden Age” – star honorary sign of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria, 2014), Prof. DSc Rachko Popov, Assoc. Prof. Katya Mihaylova (winner of the “Honored for the Polish Culture” medal of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Poland, 1998 and of the “Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland”, awarded by the President of the Republic of Poland, 2000), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elena Marushiakova (Professor at St. Andrews University, United Kingdom, New Age Scientist, 2009 Selection) US State Department Educational and Cultural Affairs Office and Council for International Exchange of Scientists, European Research Council Advanced Grant 2016-2016; Harzing’s Publish or Perish: 1152 citations, h-index 15, Web of Knowledge: 238 citations, Scopus: 201 citations),
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Veselin Popov (Professor at St. Andrews University, UK; Harzing’s Publish or Perish: 1061 citations, h-index 14, Web of Knowledge: 238 citations, Scopus: 201 citations) and others.
The institute conducts research, educational and applied activities in the fields of ethnology, folkloristics, cultural and social anthropology, ethnomusicology, ethnochoreology, art studies and museology. Priorities are the research of man and human communities in their historical and contemporary cultural environment; field studies and documentation of traditions, the safeguarding and exposition of material cultural assets; the generation of ideas and strategies in the field of safeguarding of the material and intangible cultural heritage.
The subject of study is the traditional and contemporary culture of Bulgarians and other ethnic and religious communities in Bulgaria in their historical continuity and different forms of manifestation; the transformation and integration processes in the Bulgarian society in the context of world globalization; modern migration processes and their influence on identity; the cultural processes among the Bulgarian communities abroad in the past and the present day.
Comparative research is carried out in a Balkan, European and global context. Methodological management is carried out of the local centers for intangible cultural heritage and the activities in this area of the community center (chitalishte) network in the country, as well as the network of ethnographic museums in the country and their scientific groups as well as other existing collections.
The combination of scholars of different fundamental backgrounds: historians, ethnologists, museologists, philologists, folklorists, culturologists, ethno-musicologists, ethnochoreologists, art historians, etc., allows an in-depth study of the culture of various religious, ethnic and social communities and groups living on the territory of Bulgaria (both those who have been inhabiting it for centuries as well as newly emerging): Christians and Muslims, Danovists, Buddhists, Bulgarians, Turks, Roma, Karakachans, Vlachs, Gagauzes, Armenians, Jews, Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, Czechs, Greeks, pilgrims, football fans, railway modellers, LARP players and others.
Significant results are achieved by scientists and PhD students at IEFSEM – BAS in analyzing the cultural processes among the Bulgarian communities abroad. Each year, the historical and geographic area of research extends to the traditional Bulgarian diaspora in the Mediterranean, Central and Eastern Europe, the USA, the new migrant communities in Norway, United Kingdom, Finland, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and others. Modern migration and its influence on identity is an important problem circle that is observed, documented and researched by IEFSEM – BAS. The different transformational and integration processes in Bulgarian society in the context of world globalization processes and ever-increasing pan-European and cross-border mobility are also in the focus of scientific interest.
The basic methodological requirement in the ethnological and folkloristic study for personally collected material is the basis of another extremely important result of the work of the scholars – the creation of a database of documents (observations, interviews, photo and video documentation, etc.) on the contemporary cultural processes and forms of expression of the different human communities in Bulgaria and of the Bulgarian ones abroad. By entering the scientific archives of the institute for safeguarding, they enrich the cultural memory depositories on one hand and are a valuable basis for further research on the other.
The results of the field studies and the research analyses of the scholars are presented at national and international conferences organized by IEFSEM – BAS or by other Bulgarian or foreign institutions; they are published in specialized scientific periodicals as well as in separate editions. For the last six years (2010-2016), IEFSEM scholars have published 1598 studies and articles in Bulgarian and international editions, 94 monographs and thematic collections. Along with the scientific analyses, the tradition of publishing the very archival materials – folk songs and their texts – continues, to answer the public interest in such publications which has increased in recent years.
The achievements of the research are also reflected in the exposition activity of the National Ethnographic Museum. Many of the exhibitions are the result of project work; others aim at presenting the cultural assets owned by the museum; the third are dedicated to significant names from the development of Bulgarian ethnology and folklore. The cultural traditions of different Bulgarian communities as well as of nearby and far-away peoples are presented in the exhibition halls. For the last years, the museum has presented 128 own and visiting exhibitions.
The scientific achievements of IEFSEM – BAS scholars are the basis of the expertise they provide to different national and European institutions in two main areas – inter-ethnic relations and the integration of ethnic communities in Bulgaria, and cultural heritage – both material and intangible. IEFSEM is a major partner of the Ministry of Culture in the implementation of Bulgaria’s cultural policy in preserving the intangible cultural heritage. The expert capacity of the scholars is used in the realization of the National Folk Art Festival in Koprivshtitsa, the National System “Living Human Treasures – Bulgaria” and others. The documentation of all the Bulgarian applications entered in the UNESCO lists for safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage – Bistritsa Babi, Nestinarstvo, Chiprovtsi Carpet-Making, the Surova Folk Feast in Pernik (Representative List) and the Festival in Koprivshtitsa (List of Best Practices) has been prepared by scholars from IEFSEM – BAS.
Doctoral Programs: IEFSEM – BAS is accredited in the scientific specialties “Ethnography”, “Folkloristics”, “Museology”, “Art and Fine Arts” and “Musicology, Music and Dance”. As of 01.08.2017, 10 regular PhD students are trained at IEFSEM – BAS. From October 1, 2017, two more newly enrolled regular PhD students (additional admission) will begin their studies.
Other educational initiatives
- Specialized Doctoral Courses at the Training Centre of BAS: IEFSEM – BAS offers 14 courses: “Ethnology of Socialism and Post-Socialism”, “Ethnology of the Balkans”, “Gypsies / Roma (History, Traditions, Modernity)”, “Calendar of Holidays of the Balkan Peoples”, “Field research in Anthropology: case study”, “Ethnicity and Nationalisms in the Modern World”, “Traditional Folk Institutions and Normativity in the Balkans”, “Museums and Museology”, “Balkan and Slavic Folklore”, “Traditions, Rituals, Holidays”, “Bulgarian Folklore: Traditional and contemporary aspects”, “Models of ritual kinship in Bulgarian culture”, “How to interpret and explores ethnic identity”, “Anthropology of disasters and catastrophes.”
- Teaching at HEI: Scholars from IEFSEM – BAS hold lecture courses at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, University of Plovdiv “Paisii Hilendarski”, South-West University “Neofit Rilski”, National Academy of Arts “Nikolay Pavlovich”, University of Veliko Tarnovo “St. Cyril and St. Methodius” and the Academy of Music, Dance and Fine Arts – Plovdiv.
- Teaching abroad: Scholars from IEFSEM – BAS hold lectures and lecture courses also at universities abroad (Germany, Estonia, Italy, China, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, USA, Slovakia, Slovenia and Czechia).
- Participation in Erasmus+ program: IEFSEM – BAS has concluded 25 Agreements with universities in Austria, Germany, Greece, Estonia, Spain, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Croatia, Czechia for mobility of PhD students for study and of scholars for lectures.
- The Pupils’ Institute of BAS – scholars from IEFSEM – BAS participate as reviewers of projects participating in the Pupils’ Scientific Sessions announced by BAS.
- Student Practices – In the framework of Agreements with different faculties and departments of the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, students are trained in the museum and in the archive units of IEFSEM – BAS as well as under the “Student Practices” project of the Ministry of Education and Science, funded by OP SESG.
- Creative workshops – The National Ethnographic Museum organizes various educational initiatives for children and adults. Every year for Christmas, March 1 and Easter, creative workshops are held for making ritual objects, for training and performing folk dances, songs and fairy tales. The participants acquire knowledge and skills related to the traditions and culture of the different communities living in Bulgaria.
- Educational Center of the National Ethnographic Museum – in 2016, the beginning of a donation campaign “Get to know traditions to love your people!” was launched to create a permanent and modern Educational Center in the National Ethnographic Museum. Attracting many donors and supporters of the idea will allow the Center to be opened in the end of 2017 – early 2018.