The Bulgarian Community Center (Chitalishte) Cover Image
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Българското читалище
The Bulgarian Community Center (Chitalishte)

Author(s): Mila Santova, Stela Nenova
Subject(s): Anthropology
Published by: Институт за етнология и фолклористика с Етнографски музей при БАН

Summary/Abstract: The text presents the social and cultural phenomenon of the Bulgarian chitalishte (community center) and its relations to the local community, in whose parameters it originates, functions and develops. During the 60s and 70s of the 19th century, it emerges as a civic type of association, being primarily a center of education and enlightenment, but also taking the responsibility to develop and identify the presence of the Bulgarian community in the absence of Bulgarian state system. The main subject of interest is the key role of the chitalishte for preservation and development of the local communities’ traditional culture and its responsibility for the realization of cultural transmission to the following generations. The attention is focused on the specificity of the community center structure, its independent internal constitution and its complete autonomy as far as its management and activity are concerned. Another issue is the inter-relation between of this communal institution and the state system after the Liberation of Bulgaria and its juridical regulation. An accent is put on the recognition of the community centers network as an important partner in the creation of national and regional registers of traditional activities and skills – “Living human treasures – Bulgaria”. The interpretation of the chitalishte phenomenon is centered on its re-discovered role for the preservation of national identity and the affiliation with the contemporary values, which makes it a unique part of Bulgarian institutional and cultural heritage.

  • Issue Year: XXXII/2006
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 58-64
  • Page Count: 7
  • Language: Bulgarian