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refugees and their descendants; safeguarding Bulgarianness, the Bulgarians abroad and
Orthodox Christianity; well-being for the Bulgarian people and prosperity for the Bulgarian state;
active involvement to guarantee peace, trust and good neighbourly relations with the peoples
on the Balkan Peninsula.
Scholarly output has a major role in constructing and maintaining the memory of
Thracians. Established in 1934, the
Thracian Institute of Research
unites scholars and activists
of the liberatory movement in Thrace. The associates of the institution include names such as
D. Mihalchev, I. Ormandzhiev, A. Ishirkov, Hr. Vakarelski, etc. In the years of its prime activity,
the institute studied the history, life, language and struggles of Thracian Bulgarians, recovered
archived documents, organised scholarly events, and published the
Bulletin of the Thracian
Institute of Research
annually. Its more recent editions are the basis for historical and ethnographic
publications on the towns and villages delving into the origin, family history, and oral tales of
the Bulgarians from Eastern and Western Thrace. Currently, the agenda of the Thracian Institute
of Research has the ambitious goal to produce an encyclopaedia on Thrace that would cover
the whole region. The edition is focused on the Bulgarian perspective, its objective being to
demonstrate the Bulgarian cultural presence rather than the entire cultural palette of Thrace.
The following pages will offer an outline of the major tendencies in the policies and
practices of the UTSB in view of the border.
Reinforcing the border
Memorialisation and fortifying the frames of memory
In the public domain, UTSB features itself as an institution of memory, a safeguard of
historical memory and the historical truth about the past. The quintessence of this image is
revealed in the first part of the
newspaper motto: “Do not forget but take no revenge.”
have become the fundamental resource for constructing Thracian identity.
This specificity has found its public expression in the annual calendar. The cultural events often
use the form of the Thracian fests and the concerts of amateur folk groups.
The calendar of cultural events combines celebrations specific for theThracian community,
sites of memory and dates honoured because of their link with the national heroic past and
the national heroes. The link with the national heroes and the events significant nation-wide is
explained away by the perception of the Thracian organisation as“socially patriotic,”and“a bearer
10 Cf.
11 With a few disruptions, the newspaper has been in print since 1921.
12 There are 13 national Thracian fests and a number of regional and local ones. The huge number of folk fests
has to do with the mission of the organisation to preserve cultural memory and cultural traditions, in which folklore
has an important role as it is the bearer of the oral history of the various local communities. In recent years, leaders
have noted that the interest towards the fests has drastically dropped since they follow the same type of script. Thus,
the participants in the Petrova niva fest, around 100,000 in the 1990s, have gone down to three or four thousand
people in recent years. Most national fests have become local and cannot achieve their goals.