REPORT OF THE PROGRAMS AND ACTIVITIES OF THE AMERICAN RESEARCH CENTER IN SOFIA (ARCS) FOUNDATION, 2014-2015

ACADEMIC PROGRAM

ARCS Pre-doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships

During the 2014–2015 academic year, ARCS hosted a total of 7 Pre-doctoral Fellows: 3 nine-month Fellows and 4 three-month fellows. The ARCS Pre-doctoral Fellows received free housing, a monthly stipend of $600, and 30 hours of language training per semester. They pursued their own research projects, participated in all public events at ARCS, and took language courses in Bulgarian or another language of the Balkans. For the second year, ARCS also hosted a Postdoctoral fellow between September–November 2014 and May–July 2015 with a stipend of $2000 per month. The Fellow took part in the academic program and the trips; he also organized a conference at ARCS in addition to conducting research in Bulgaria.

ARCS Residential Fellowship for SE European PhD Students and Junior Postdoctoral Scholars

The fellowship began in February 2014, enabling ARCS to host PhD students and junior postdoctoral scholars in residence at ARCS. ARCS hosted 4 Fellows from Bulgaria and 2 from Romania. Their presence contributed to a more dynamic academic program, trips, and lecture series.

FELLOWSHIPS

FADS

Established in 2010, the program made it possible for Bulgarian doctoral students to pursue research at either the American School of Classical Studies at Athens or the American Research Institute in Turkey for one month. In the fall, three students went to the ASCSA and two to the ARIT. In the spring semester (February 10, 2015) all FADS recipients presented their research at ARCS as part of the academic program.

The Gipson Fellowship for Recent PhDs in the Humanities

Established in 2011 thanks to Robert and Nellie Gipson, the Gipson Fellowship provides an opportunity for recent PhDs to pursue research at the ASCSA or ARIT for 3 months. In the spring semester (February 10, 2015) the 2013–2014 Gipson Fellows presented their research at ARCS as a part of the academic program. The 2014­–2015 Fellows are scheduled to present their research in September 2015, again for the benefit of ARCS Fellows and the general public.

International Conference Travel Award for Bulgarian Scholars

Since 2012, this award has contributed up to 1500 BGN toward the expenses incurred by Bulgarian scholars to present papers at international conferences. The program had three application cycles: March, July, and November. In November 2014, ARCS presented four awards to local scholars.

CONFERENCES

Since Fall 2012, ARCS began organizing conferences on a variety of subjects as part of its mission. We also continued subsidizing conferences in collaboration with academic institutions based in Sofia and elsewhere in the country.

October 2–4, 2014. “Mirabilia: Miracles and Monsters. First Interdisciplinary Conference.” The conference was organized by the Institute for Balkan Studies & Center of Thracology, BAS in collaboration with the American Research Center in Sofia. All presentations took place at ARCS.

October 10–12, 2014. “The 8th Symposium ‘Tsar Shishmanov Days’ in Samokov.” The conference was organized by the “Ongal” Association, hosted by the Samokov Municipality, and co-sponsored by the American Research Center in Sofia.

May 7–8, 2015. “Town and Country in the Byzantine World: Social and Economic Perspectives.” Organized by the ARCS Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Pavel Murdzhev (Santa Fe College), the conference brought together a group of leading scholars from Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Georgia, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, and the USA to discuss the latest trends in the field of Byzantine studies. The keynote address was delivered by Prof. Florin Curta (University of Florida).

October 2–4, 2015. “The 9th Symposium ‘Tsar Shishmanov Days’ in Samokov.” The conference was organized by the “Ongal” Association, hosted by the Samokov Municipality, and co-sponsored by the American Research Center in Sofia. 

PUBLIC EVENTS

November 25, 2014. ARCS hosted the premiere of the latest monograph in its academic series (published in August 2014), The Jews of Karnobat: Chapters from the Depths: the History of a Vanished Community by Dr. Zvi Keren from Israel. The book’s premiere was co-sponsored by the “Red House” Center for Culture and Debate in Sofia and took place in their largest auditorium.

April 24, 2015. The American Research Center in Sofia celebrated its 10th anniversary among friends and supporters at the National Palace of Culture. The event was heralded by a public lecture, “Western Values Twenty-Five Years after the Fall of the Wall,” by Dr. Philip Dimitrov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria in 1991–1992, Bulgarian Ambassador to the USA in 1998–2002, and Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Georgia in 2010–2014.

May 11, 2015. As a follow-up to the ARCS conference, “Town and Country in the Byzantine World: Social and Economic Perspectives,” Prof. Florin Curta (University of Florida) delivered a public lecture on “The Making of the Slavs – 14 Years Later. New Remarks on the History and Archaeology of the Early Slavs in the Balkans, Sixth to Seventh Century AD.”The event took place at ARCS and was attended by local scholars.

June 14, 2015. ARCS organized the official opening of its new website, “The Immigrant’s Suitcase. Virtual Museum of the Bulgarians in North America” for the Bulgarian community in Chicago” (www.immigrant.bg). The event was entitled “With Memory for the Past and Hope for the Future. Shared Heritage.” The event’s program included the presentation of Dr. Dilyana Ivanova’s book, Memories of Everyday Life in the Town of Rousse, Bulgaria. The monograph was published by ARCS in 2014.

October 15, 2015. ARCS held an event at the General Consulate of the Republic of Bulgaria in New York, entitled “Memory and Future — Shared Heritage.” In memory of the historian Dr. Zvi Keren, Prof. Kevin Clinton and Dr. Nora Clinton introduced the guests to his life and work and presented his most recent book The Jews of Karnobat: Chapters from the Depths – The History of a Vanished Community, published by ARCS in 2014. The event ended with the presentation of the “The Immigrant’s Suitcase. Virtual Museum of the Bulgarians in North America” for the Bulgarian community in Chicago” (www.immigrant.bg).

November 19, 2015. For the third consecutive year, ARCS hosted a reception at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES, November 19–22, 2015) in Philadelphia, PA. The ARCS get-together was scheduled at a venue near the convention at the Marriott Downtown hotel, called “Brü Craft & Wurst.” More than 20 participants of the ASEEES Meeting enjoyed the reception: friends, alumni, fellows, and current ARCS staff members. During the ASEEES convention this year, ARCS was organizing two sessions. The first was entitled, “Communist Legacy and Post-communist Reality – Historical Memory and Political Culture,” and the second was called “Studying and Musealizing State Socialism in Bulgaria. Debates and Interpretations.” Both panels examine the legacy of the Bulgarian communist regime in the individual, social, and political realms during the years of democracy in the country.

November 20, 2015. ARCS provided logistical and financial support to the Chicago concert by the Bulgarian ethno-music group Balkanski, led by the famous flute player Teodosii Spassov. The group performed in Chicago on November 20 as a part of their 2015 North American Tour. 

PUBLICATIONS

Two volumes of Papers of the American Research Center in Sofia appeared during the academic year:


Papers of the American Research Center in Sofia, Volume 1 (October 2014), edited by Eric de Sena, presents select papers delivered at the conference “Communications and Commerce in the Balkans from Alexander the Great to Alexander Battenberg,” organized by the American Research Center in Sofia on October 25–26, 2012. The volume also included a paper entitled “James F. Clarke, Pioneer of Bulgarian Studies in the United States,” presented by Professor Dennis P. Hupchick as an ARCS Eugene Schuyler Lecture in the Aula Magna of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences on March 6, 2013.

 

Papers of the American Research Center in Sofia, Volume 2 (February 2015), edited by L. Vagalinski and E. Nankov, presents a volume of select papers presented at the conference “Heraclea Sintica: from Hellenistic Polis to Roman Civitas (4th c. BC–6th c. AD),” organized by the American Research Center in Sofia, in collaboration with the National Institute of Archaeology with Museum and the Museum of History in Petrich, on September 19–21, 2013.

 

 

Anthropology: Journal for Socio-Cultural Anthropology, Volume 2, 2015, special guest editor Dr. Cristofer Scarboro. The papers from this special edition of Anthropology emerged from a conference held at the American Research Center last June, entitled “Living After the Fall (?): Past-Present in Southeastern Europe,”organized by Dr. Scarboro in his capacity as the Center’s inaugural postdoctoral fellow in 2014. The materials from this volume aim to periodize and understand the communist past on the 25th anniversary of the end of Communism in Eastern Europe — the era which is simultaneously definitively over, and yet still among us. 

 

Book subsidy for Typology and Chronology of Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Bronze Socketed Spearheads in Southeastern Europe, by Lyuben Leshtakov, ATE − Ars et Technica Explicatus, Sofia, 2015 (in Bulgarian with English summaries). This study is an attempt to build a typology and follow the chronological development of bronze socketed spearheads in the Mycenaean world and the eastern part of Central Europe, their origins, and their influence in Bronze Age warfare. 

 

 

Book subsidy for a new translation of Antigone of Sophocles, by Kiril Merjanski, Sofia, 2015. This edition presents Antigone of Sophocles in a new poetic translation into Bulgarian — the work of Kiril Merjanski, the historian and longtime professor at NGDEK (the National Lyceum for Ancient Languages and Cultures).

 

Thanks to the Tianaderrah Foundation (Nellie and Robert Gipson), ARCS has been able to organize competitions and publish an outstanding doctoral dissertation by a Bulgarian scholar in English. The fourth volume of the ARCS Monograph Series is in preparation: Alexei Kalionski’s The Yorouks on the Balkans under Ottoman Rule (15th to Early 17th c.). The fifth volume is on halt due to administrative issues at ARCS, Inc.

ARCS is pleased to announce that Elena Kostova's book, Medieval Melnik from the Late Twelfth to the Late Fourteenth Centuries: Historical Vicissitudes of a Small Balkan Town, was selected as the winner of the John D. Bell 2014 Memorial Book Prize by the Bulgarian Studies Association. The book was selected for publication as part of the 2013 Gipson Dissertation Award competition and published as volume I of the ARCS Monograph Series.

ARCS announces the appearance of A Companion to Ancient Thrace, which was published by Wiley-Blackwell on May 19, 2015. The Companion was first conceived in early fall 2010 by Denver Graninger (ARCS Director, 2010–2012), Emil Nankov (ARCS Archaeology Program Officer, 2009–present), and Julia Valeva (Institute of Art Studies, BAS), the Companion will hopefully serve as a useful tool for international scholars and students who may decide to venture into the intricate culture of Thrace and the Balkan periphery of the Classical world.

WEBSITES

The American Research Center in Sofia unveiled an online museum in May 2015 called, “The Immigrant’s Suitcase. Virtual Museum of Bulgarians in North America” (www.immigrant.bg). The site’s main idea is to build a virtual museum that will collect the personal stories of Bulgarians who have immigrated to the United States and Canada and allow them to share their life experiences through a virtual platform. The website contains journalistic and ethnographic interviews with immigrants. The “Virtual Memory” section hosts albums with personal photos narrating life stories and other memories through a visual means. Similar to an actual museum, the “Virtual Museum of Bulgarians in North America” will present on-line exhibits prepared by the site’s team and users. 

Since November 2009, the names and biographies of all the known victims of communism in Bulgaria have been collected and published on the virtual memorial “Victims of Communism in Bulgarian Territory” (www.victimsofcommunism.bg), both in Bulgarian and in English. Currently, our team is making some improvements to the website, such as continuing the synchronization of the English and Bulgarian versions of the site; upgrading the existing technical platform of the site with a content management system (CMS) that will allow the research team to upload materials to the website more independently from the web specialists;  modernizing the design and the concept of the website with new components, images, categories, and subcategories; uploading oral history interviews and narratives on the topic of terror in Bulgaria during the communist regime; and adding more archives, photographs, albums, and other visual materials on the website with the aim of making the site more complete and powerful. The website will be launched with the improvements under the new platform by the end of 2015.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROGRAM

ARCS Field School and Summer Archaeology Program

Conceived and developed over the course of 2011 and early 2012 by Graninger and Nankov, ARCS launched its first archaeological field school at the site of Heraclea Sintica, near Petrich. After three consecutive seasons at Heraclea Sintica (2012–2014), it was decided that the program would take place at the Roman town of Parthicopolis near Sandanski in 2015. ARCS hosted three undergraduate and graduate students from the USA and three graduate students from Bulgaria. 

As a spin-off from the program, the American Research Center in Sofia, the Archaeological Museum in Sandanski, and the Municipality of Sandanski are organizing a conference, “Sandanski and its Territory during Prehistory, Antiquity and Middle Ages: Current Trends in Archaeological Research,” that took place September 17–20, 2015, in Sandanski.