The past week has been rough. I had spent a lot of time (nearly half of the duration of the project) researching monuments that I would not need, questions that were not essential.
However, as it turns out, my scope was far too ambitious and my question was far too broad to formulate a well-written, scholarly research paper. Therefore, I have narrowed my scope down from the entire post-Soviet Eastern Europe, to Bulgaria. At this point, I have also decided to tie the treatment of Communist monuments in Bulgaria to the governmental-imposed idea of a ”double liberation”, rooting my argument in several key components:
- The separation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire as a clever governmental tool for depicting Russia as the liberator.
- The idea of a national enemy as crucial for forming a national identity. The use of this ”first” liberation as a basis for the ”double liberation” idea: the sense of brotherhood between the Soviet and Bulgaria, enforced by strengthening the link between the Russian liberator and the Soviet liberator.
- The connection of the two occurrences has been reinforced by building Soviet monuments near by monuments commemorating the Russo-Turkish War, or by symbolic places where historical battles took place.
- The hypothesis that this “double liberation” is the reason why unlike many other post-Soviet states, the Bulgarian government has continuously worked in some ways towards protecting communist monuments, rather than destroying them. E.g. 1992 treaty of cooperation between Russia and Bulgaria, and Boyko Borissov’s encouragement of communist landmark restoration programs.
- Despite the government’s support, there are still 3 different narratives of how society perceives Communist monuments (anti-fascist, nostalgic, and commercial), wherein the double liberation plays a crucial role in the nostalgic and commercial perception.
Therefore, my main research question has (so far) shifted to:
How has the idea of a Bulgarian “double liberation” influenced the state’s treatment of Soviet monuments?
I believe this to be a much more concise idea, because it is rooted in a historical argument. Additionally, I can still use the mapping method in order to strengthen my point, by placing both Soviet and Russo-Turkish monuments in relation to each other, layering on basis such as: funding, commemoration, state’s treatment, society’s treatment.
Overall, after brainstorming for a few hours today, I have reached peace with the way this project is headed. A part of me fears potentially meeting with Prof. Sanborn because he could discourage me from everything that I just rebuilt from scratch… But another part of me knows that even if that happens, I have already learnt that rebuilding is not that bad, after all.