The Effects of Globalization on the Policy of the National Ethnographic Museum in Bulgaria

Rodostina Sharenkova
Ph.D. Student, Ethnographic Institute and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria

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Ingår i: National museums in a global world. NaMu III; Department of culture studies and oriental languages; University of Oslo; Norway; 19-21 November 2007

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 31:10, s. 119-121

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Publicerad: 2008-07-16


ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


The effects of globalization have started to influence the national museums in Bulgaria since the beginning of the 1990s. The reasons for the long-lasting isolation up to the democratic transition stem from the communist regime which practically closed the state borders and abandoned freedom of thought and movement.

Nevertheless; questions of diversity could not have been swept under the rug by the ethnographic museum. The presentation of ‘Us’ always implies comparison with the ‘Other’. Like many other regions in the world the Balkans are inhabited by a mix of cultures historically and geographically interrelated. No doubt; the Bulgarian National Ethnographic Museum (NEM) has tried actively to participate in the nation-building process ever since its own foundation. 

The museum’s tradition in presenting the Bulgarian national culture for a long time had excluded the display of other ethnic communities’ cultures. Until recently; such materials had never been subject to collecting as if they were not to be found within this same country. This element of NEM’s politics was changed under the influence of globalization and re-opening of the state after the fall of the communist regime in 1989.

Turning the tide with the fall of the communist regime in 1989; the museum mission was changed in order to escape the link with the discredited past. The stress was firmly put on ‘difference’ in its various geographic; ethnic or religious aspects. The collecting and exhibiting policies were focused on the past and avoided any current social or cultural issues.

The influence of globalization seen as intercultural relationships and exchange of information could be traced in NEM’s exhibitions presenting the Bulgarian diaspora from the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. As a result of the impact of multiculturalism on ethnological research; NEM has started to present the ethnic communities in a series of temporary exhibitions. The series of displays have come to support state political concept of the ‘Bulgarian tolerance’.


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