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The City as Spectacle of Self-Colonization: the Modernization of Sofia 1878–1914


Keynote lecture Alexander Kiossev, Professor of History of Modern Culture and Head of the Cultural Centre at Sofia University, on Wednesday, December 01, at 17:00

The lecture addresses the modernization of the city of Sofia after 1878. Chosen as a capital of the new Principality of Bulgaria, the small ex-Ottoman town was growing and underwent a series of rapid changes. In a process of accelerated modernization, a new urban infrastructure was adopted (water supply, sewerage, transport, electricity etc.). However, this functional modernization was not sufficient: both the new municipality and the population dreamt to have an “European capital”; thus,  they began to “de-orientalize” the city. In two decades this led to massive transformation of the skyline and the central part of Sofia; the lecture analyzes this radical urban transformation as an ambivalent process of Eurocentric self-colonization.

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The online lecture is part of Mittwochsvorträge in Specks Hof, a series of lectures by GWZO. It is organized in cooperation the IfL project CoMoDe (Contentious Mobilities through a decolonial lens) and Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO). It is funded by Leibniz ScienceCampus »Eastern Europe – Global Area« (EEGA)

About Prof. Kiossev:

Alexander Kiossev is Professor of History of Modern Culture and Director of the Cultural Centre of Sofia University. His research interests include the problems of reading, the visual culture of the city, cultural history of totalitarianism and transition. His publications include four books in Bulgarian. He has edited and compiled collective studies in English, German, and Bulgarian. Many of his articles have been translated into English, German, French, Dutch, Ukrainian, Czech, Polish, Romanian, Serbian, and Macedonian.