Ivaylo Ditchev, born in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1955. Ph.D. from the University of Paris. Associate Professor at the Sociology Department at the University of Sofia ‘St. Kliment Ohridsky’.
Visiting Grant Scholar (1 September 2002 – 30 November 2002)
I studied the ways in which nations staged or invented their identities, after economic and cultural exchanges started to intensify in Europe during the nineteenth century. I was especially interested in seemingly peripheral phenomena like the organisation of World Fairs, the beginning of the Olympic Games and other international sport contests, national monuments, ‘invented traditions’ like rituals and national symbols, postcards and tourism. The point was to locate these developments in the Balkans within a larger historical context of the passage from traditional forms of what I call belonging, based on moral discourse, to modern forms of identity, relying much more on the aesthetics of the figural. For nations appearing on the world stage during the nineteenth century, identity is produced within a large framework of comparison and competition according to fairly standardised technologies. The similitude could be seen especially well when studying the iconographic side of the process. The next step of my research will be to verify the hypothesis that each time a territory opens up to a larger field of exchange – as is nowadays the case with EU enlargement – the process of producing identity is at work.