The Bulgarian Association of University Women

International Conference

International Conference

The Twentieth International Conference of the International Federation for Research in Women’s History entitled “Women, Gender and the Cultural Production of Knowledge” was held in Sofia from 8th August till 12th August 2007. The main organizer of the conference was the Bulgarian Association of University Women together with Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. The conference was under the auspice of the First Lady of Bulgaria, Dr. Zorka Parvanova, and was financially supported by Sofia Municipality (Culture and Education Directorate), Bulgarian Office of the UN Program for Development (UNDP), Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe, East-East Program of Open Society Foundation and the American Association for Women in Slavic Studies.
The conference was attended by more than 165 scholars from 45 countries, working in the field of women’s history and gender studies. During the three days of the conference various papers and presentations were delivered in 38 sections united around several major topics: “Women, Orality, Memory”, “Women in Traditional Societies”, “Writing of Gendered History”, “Cultural Aspects of Women Representations”, “Women’s Movements and Feminisms”, “Cultural Production: Women Writers”, “Women in Professions”, “Masculinities and Femininities through Time and Space”, “Gender in Books, Art and Music”, “Museum and Performativity of History”, “Women in the Arts”.

Several documentaries were shown as part of the plenary sessions – about Marie Balian, an Armenian ceramic artist from Jerusalem, about Irma Lindheim, a kibbutz founder in Israel and about the Bulgarian feminist Jenny Bozhilova-Pateva.
A special launching of the Bulgarian translation of Scott McFie’s book Among the Bulgarian Gypsies with an Introduction by Prof. Timothy Ashplant published by the Sofia University Press “St. Kliment Ohridski” was also one of the focal points of the conference.
An important part of the conference was the round table “Gender Equality in Secondary and Higher/University Education in Central and Eastern Europe”, which gathered together 40 participants (18 from abroad and 22 from Bulgaria) – scholars, representatives of women’s organizations in the academia and NGOs working for gender equality. Data for the women’s place in higher education and science in Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Albania, Serbia, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Russia, Latvia, as well as for the whole region of Central and Eastern and South-Eastern Europe were discussed in several of the panels. Especially useful were the meetings of the members of BAUW with members of similar organizations from the Balkans.

Honarary Members

Honarary Members

In June 2006 BAUW awarded an honorary membership to Prof. Dr. IVANKA SVETOSLAVOVA AKRABOVA-ZHANDOVA, historian of art, well-known archeologist and researcher, who worked at the Archeological Museum, Sofia and the Bulgarian Academy of Science for a long time. The honorary membership was given to her to commemorate her 95 birthday. She became member of BAUW at the end of the 1930s, following in the steps of her mother, Luiba Shileva-Akrabova, one of the Chairwomen of the organization.

In September 2006 BAUW awarded an honorary membership to Assoc. Prof. ZHANA GEORGIEVA NIKOLOVA-GALABOVA, Germanic and literary studies scholar, one of the renowned experts in German philology in Bulgaria, writer and essayist. Zhana Galabova is the second woman to have become an associate professor at Sofia University. She was fired during the communist witch-hunt in 1945. She became member of BAUW at the end of the 1930s and has been an active member of the Club of the Bulgarian Women Writers. At the beginning of 2008 she turned 100 years.

Documentary Exposition

Documentary Exposition

The documentary exposition “Women’s Movement in Bulgaria (1901-1950)” organized by the Bulgarian Association of University Women (BAUW) and the General Department of Archives at the Council of Ministers to celebrate the 80th anniversary of BAUW was opened on 27th May, 2005 in Hall “Archives” (5 Moskovska Str., Sofia).
The exposition was compiled and arranged under the supervision of Assoc. Prof. Krassimira Daskalova and with the participation of Architect Dr. Luibinka Stoilova, Dr. Irina Genova and Dr. Georgeta Nazurska. They were helped by Stefka Petrova and Hristo Vekov (Archives State Agency) and by the painter Stoyan Hristov (Bulgarian Academy of Science). Archive materials from the collection of the Central State Archives and the State Archives, Sofia, documents and photos from private collections as well as books from the National Library “St. Cyril and St. Methodius” were arranged in 30 posters and 7 glass cabinets.
Such an exposition is organized for the first time in Bulgaria. The women’s movement has been the subject of previous expositions but either as far as the Revival Period in Bulgaria is concerned or in view of the socialist and the communist trends in this movement. In the choice of the documents exhibited the organizers were led by the idea to represent the full scope, organizationally, ideologically and individually, of the feminist movement in Bulgaria. That is why the presentation of the period before the Liberation (1878) was limited to the brief sketching out of the birth of the first women organizations, the spread of the ideas of women education and the establishment of the first female schools. A number of posters represented the founding of the national organization of the Bulgarian Women’s Union (1901) and its split into two factions: bourgeois and socialist.

Special attention was paid to the emergence of the suffragette union “Equality” and of the communist women’s movement up till the mid-1920s. One of the focuses of the exposition was the collection of print materials of the above-mentioned two movements of Bulgarian feminism as well as the biographies of their leaders (Аna Karima, Ekaterina Karavelova, Julia Malinova, Dimitrana Ivanova, Vela Blagoeva, Kina Konova). Together with a number of Bulgarian and foreign books which described the demands of women as a social group deprived of basic civil rights they formed the core of the exposition.
The larger part of the exposition was devoted to the development of the feminist movement in Bulgaria after the First World War. The documents showed the activities of the Bulgarian sections of the international pacifist and liberal organizations (the Bulgarian Branch of the International Women’s League for Peace and Liberty headed by Ekaterina Karavelova and Lidiya Shishmanova, The International Alliance for Women’s Suffrage and Civil Rights represented by Vera Boyadzhieva-Fol, the Bulgarian Slavic Women’s Group led by Sanda Iovcheva).
A special place among all these organizations occupies The Union of the Bulgarian Women with Higher Education. It was founded in 1924 as an organization of the elite group of Bulgarian women university graduates and in 1925 it became a member of the International Federation of University Women. It combined the ideas of the social and the liberal international women’s associations (fighting for guaranteeing the right to education and work for all Bulgarian women) but in the course of time it became a supporter of pacifist and political ideas as well (for peace and women suffrage). It was representative for the Bulgarian intelligentsia, for the development of feminism in Bulgaria and for its subsequent destruction by the totalitarian regime. Several of the posters represented some of the leading figures of this organization (Ekaterina Zlatoustova, Dr. Zhivka Dragneva, Tiha Genova, Luiba Akrabova and Svoboda Chardafonova), as well as organizational documents and evidence of its activities. The archival material and the photos documented the active membership of such women pioneers in Bulgarian science and the humanities as the first assistant professors at Sofia University Teodora Raikova-Kovacheva, Dona Kalcheva, Maria Andreicheva Vankova, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elisaveta Karamihailova, Assoc. Prof. Zhana Nikolova-Galabova.
Special attention was paid to the activities of the three sections in the Union – of the women graduates of the Law Faculty, who were deprived of the right to work as lawyers and judges, of the women painters and of the women writers. Such leading figures as Dr. Vera Zlatareva, a graduate of the Law Faculty, the painters Elena Karamihailova, Elisaveta Konsulova-Vazova, Masha Uzunova, Donka Konstantinova, Sultana Suruzhon, Zoya Paprikova, Vera Lukova, Vera Nedkova and the writers Evgenia Mars, Dora Gabe and Elisaveta Bagryana received prominent place in the exposition. Several of the posters were devoted to the women architects who were severely ostracized by their guild – Elena Markova, Maria-Luisa Doseva, Mimi Berova-Hening, Ganka Gineva-Petrusheva, Richka Krastanova-Toneva, Stela Zaharieva-Bosolova, Maria Variklechkova, Elena Varakadzhieva, Luiba Toncheva. The last part of the exposition was devoted to the demise of the Union – the gradual politization of its activities and its leadership, the control exercised by the Security Police, the confiscation of its property, the scattering of its archives and the final closing down of the organization by the communist regime.
The opening of the exposition coincided with one more important cultural event in Sofia – the re-opening of the permanent exposition of the National Gallery exhibiting some of the works of the members of the Painters’ Section of the Union of the Bulgarian Women with Higher Education. That made it possible for a lot of people to visit both expositions, which became one of the few “memory sites” of Bulgarian women in Sofia.

New Journal

A New Journal

Aspasia. International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women’s and Gender History, vol. 1, 2007, Berghahn Journals

At the beginning of 2007 the first volume of Aspasia, a new journal for Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European women’s and gender history came out.
It is edited by Francisca de Haan (Central European University, Budapest), Maria Bucur (Indiana University) and Krassimira Daskalova (St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia). The editorial board consists of Gisela Bock, Elena Gapova, Jasmina Lukic, Natalia Pushkareva, Bonnie Smith, Natalie Zemon Davis and Anna Zarnowska.
The journal has the ambition to publish the best scholarly production in the interdisciplinary field of women’s and gender history with a special focus on Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe, where this kind of research is scarce and is marginalised in the “international” canon. The journal aims to turn the European history of women not only into West European history of women, as it is often assumed to be, but to redirect the interdisciplinary research on women and gender towards all parts of the continent.
Each volume of the journal will contain a number of articles, discussion forum and reviews of books.
The first volume has already been published and its topic is Women’s Movements and Feminisms. It contains articles on the women’s movements in Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Greece from a wide chronological range – from the mid-nineteenth century to the beginning of the twenty-first century. The Forum is devoted to the question whether there is a contradiction in the term ‘Communist Feminism’. The review section contains reviews on surveys of women’s history in Romania, Russia and Estonia.

Contents of Volume 1, 2007:
Women’s Suffrage and Revolution in the Russian Empire, 1905-1917
Author: Ruthchild, Rochelle Goldberg

Exploring Continuities and Reconciling Ruptures: Nationalism, Feminism, and the Ukrainian Women’s Movement
Author: Kebalo, Martha Kichorowska

Feminism and Feminist History-Writing in Turkey: The Discovery of Ottoman Feminism
Authors: Cakir, Serpil

Between Liberal and Republican Citizenship: Feminism and Nationalism in Romania, 1880-1918
Author: Bucur, Maria

Making an Appearance: The Formation of Women’s Groups in Hungary
Authors: Fabian, Katalin

Open Lecture

Open Lecture

On 11th November 2006, an open lecture was delivered by the Chairwoman of BAUW, Assoc. Prof. Krassimira Daskalova, on “Women’s Movements and Feminisms in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe” in the hall of the Sofia City Gallery where the art exhibition “Presences/Absences” was shown. The lecture was followed by the launching of A Biographical Dictionary of Women’s Movements and Feminisms. Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe: 19th – 20th Centuries, edited by De Haan, Fr., Kr. Daskalova, A.Loutfi (Budapest, New York: CEU Press, 2006) with articles by other BAUW members.

In her lecture Prof. Daskalova made a brief survey of the emergence and the growth of women’s history as a field of scholarly research and an academic subject and traced chronologically the development of this field in Bulgaria (in the works of Stanka Nikolitsa, Vana Kepova, Ekaterina Zlatoustova).
The second focus of the lecture was on the development of feminism and its typology. In the lecturer’s understanding there are different types of feminisms which co-exist polyphonically in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. That was the driving idea behind the compiling of the Biographical Dictionary which gathers together different life-stories, which could form a new understanding of the region’s feminisms and women’s movements and serve as the basis for the writing of their history.

The lecturer explained what the criteria for defining the geographical boundaries of the region had been and for the choice of the women represented in the edition. In her understanding, as a result of the gathered texts, some very important similarities in the treatment of women in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe have emerged – the long-kept male dominance and hierarchical power on the material and power level, the devaluation of motherhood, the transference to women of all moral (but not legal and financial) responsibility for family life, the continuation of home violence, the preservation of the high rate of female illiteracy and death rate, the exploitation of women by several modernity projects (socialist, nationalist, fascist), the framing of feminism within national and social discourses.

New Book

27th January 2006

On 27th January 2006 the new book A Biographical Dictionary of Women’s Movements and Feminisms. Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe: 19th – 20th Centuries, edited by De Haan, Fr., Kr. Daskalova, A.Loutfi. Budapest, New York: CEU Press was launched in Budapest.

The Editors:
Francisca de Haan is Professor of Gender Studies at the Central European University in Budapest.

Krassimira Daskalova teaches Modern European Cultural History at the Faculty of Philosophy, St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia, Bulgaria.

Anna Loutfi is a Doctoral Candidate at the Department of History, Central European University, Budapest.

Round Table

27th January 2006

On 28th May 2005 a round table “Feminism and Feminisms” organized by BAUW as part of the events to mark the 80th anniversary of the organization and its joining of the IFUW was held at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. Milena Kirova, Krassimira Daskalova, Ralitsa Muharska, Kornelia Slavova, Irina Genova, Reneta Roshkeva, Luibinka Stoilova, Georgeta Nazarska, Maya Nyagolova, Madeleine Danova were part of the participants in the discussion. MA students from the Gender Studies Program as well as historians and journalists also took part in the debate.

In August 2005 BAUW Chairwoman Krassimira Daskalova was elected President of the International Federation for Research in Women’s History.

Art Exposition