Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Humanities, PhD

Committee Chair

Blum, Mark E.


Nationalism--Bulgaria; Bulgaria--Politics and government--1878-1944; Bulgaria--Foreign relations--Russia; Russia--Foreign relations--Bulgaria


The exercise of nationalism is the assertion of the political sovereignty of a community in the form of a nation-state. In the case of Bulgaria, nationalism, in practice, was a long journey towards the establishment of a Bulgarian nation-state. This dissertation aims to clarify the place and role of nationalism in the reconstruction of the Bulgarian state and to examine to what extent the development of Bulgarian nationalism was influenced by Russia at the vital stage - the 1870s, when the nation fought hard against Ottoman rule and finally achieved national liberation. My motivation for examining Russo-Bulgarian historical, political and cultural relations and Russian elements in the rise of Bulgarian nationalism is to offer an example for future studies in how to construct a rational pattern of relationship between great powers and small nations with common faith and culture. The investigation in this dissertation is conducted in five disciplines: political science (constructivism), historiography, journalism, linguistics and literature. I apply a constructivist approach in discussing the factual ?process and structural change over a period of time in the Bulgarian public world, as well as how Russo-Bulgarian relations influenced the development of Bulgarian nationalism. Constructivism states that the structure leads actors to redefine their identities and interests in the process of interacting and that structures can be changed through acts of social and public will. By investigating a great number of primary documents, as well as analyzing the linguistic evolution of the Bulgarian, this dissertation concludes that Bulgarian national identity is not fixed or resistant to change, but fluid. It changes according to how the people (particularly the national elites) evaluate the domestic and international circumstances at a certain time and place. By examining the rise of Bulgarian nationalism, this research highlights Russia‘s special and complicated identity represented in the fluidity of Bulgarian national identity, concluding that Russia, as a Great Power, to which the Bulgarian national elites often went, played dual roles in the formation of the Bulgarian national identity and the consolidation of the Bulgarian nationalism. Based on the observation that Bulgarian nationalism played different roles in different historical periods, my project proves that nationalism is a process that defines, creates, and expresses the essential loyalty to the nation, and the term nationalism ought to be viewed in a neutral sense.