Enlightened Travelers and Their Mental Maps

  • Nikolay Aretov
  • July 2015, Institute of Slavic Studies Polish Academy of Sciences
  • DOI: 10.11649/ch.2012.011

Enlightened Travelers and Their Mental Maps

What is it about?

The problem of mental mapping of Eastern Europe (Larry Wolff), posed during the Enlightenment, and the similar problem about the image of the Balkans as periphery of Europe (Maria Todorova) have many aspects. The paper is dealing with three of them: 1. Peculiar and extremely interesting were mental maps, offered by one very importuned grope of writers from the 1880s and 1890s. These were key figures in the April uprising (1876) and participants in the struggle for national independence. They all were modern men and act and write from a modernizational perspective. Their memoirs contained new variation of the imagined geography of the Ottoman Empire. The observations are focused on two of its aspects. First is the description of the Bulgarian lands and Bulgarian people (mainly in the work of Zakhari Stoyanov), which differed from the preliminary ideas of the author and from the nationalistic myth, that was in process of imposing at that time. In contrast to them “Notes on the Bulgarian Uprisings” obviously narrowed Bulgarian space in geographical and ethnical sense. The second aspect is the description of the Asiatic parts of the Empire in the memoirs of the exiles (Stoyan Zaimov, priest Mincho Kanchev). Here an interesting change of the optics could be perceived – in Anadolu Bulgarian exiles occasionally adopt the view-point and even some of the ideas of the European travelers and orientalists (Edward Said).

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