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Subalterns

Author(s): Stanoy Stanoev
Subject(s): Anthropology
Published by: Институт за етнология и фолклористика с Етнографски музей при БАН

Summary/Abstract: The author investigates Bulgarian jokes about Armenians. His interest in them has been provoked by three separate issues: 1) the fact that the Bulgarian jokes include Armenian characters (characters from other, more numerous ethnic and religious groups living in Bulgaria, but different from the dominant one normally are not included); 2) jokes about Armenians are widely spread; 3) recently some scientists advocate the presumption that there is no need to study the Armenian group in Bulgaria, because it has suffered a historical fortune similar to that of the Bulgarians and because they are well integrated in Bulgarian society. Such statements, even more curious in the context of the now predominant interest in interethnic relations among Bulgarian social scientists, are not supported by the author of the article. Thus he offers the publication also as a contribution throwing light on the question of the interethnic relations between the Bulgarians and the Armenians in Bulgaria. In the type of jokes under consideration main characters are the Armenians Kirkor and Garabed (there are few exceptions from the rule to be mentioned). They normally share almost all the characteristics usually ascribed to the ethnic other such as for example being dull, witty or dirty. Nevertheless, typical for the jokes about Armenians is the fact that they are devoid of aggression to the other ethnos. Rather the aggression is closed inside the joke: in its characters’ attempts to over wit each other. Thus the jokes under consideration could be said to be rather universal, close in nature to the anecdotes about tricksters. Analysing Bulgarian jokes about Armenians, the author comes to the conclusion that their specifics are connected with reducing the gap of otherness, peculiarity otherwise only occasionally present in Bulgarian jokes about ethnic others. He also underlines the need to study further such discrepancies in describing the other and the reasons for them as related to the construction and to the uses of the image of the other, to the particular place of the Armenians in Bulgarian society, as well as to specifics of the sociocultural development of the Bulgarians in the modern epoch.

  • Issue Year: XXV/1999
  • Issue No: 1-2
  • Page Range: 4-16
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: Bulgarian