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We can now offer for free download our new edition

Raia Apostolova, Neda Deneva and Tsvetelina Hristova. Situating Migration in Transition: Temporal, Structural, and Conceptual Transformations of Migrations. Sketches from Bulgaria. Sofia: KOI Books, 2014. 

Situating Migration in Transition is a follow-up publication under the project New Left Perspectives with the financial support of Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung – Southeast Europe, and is part of a one-year project which included the international workshop “Migrating in, migrating out: how to (re)think ‘migrants' struggles’" which took place in May 2014. The authors Raia Apostolova, Neda Deneva and Tsvetelina Hristova are moving against the established definition of the Transition in post-socialist Bulgaria. The Transition is treated as a transformation without telos (Mezzadra). In these three texts migration is seen as one of the fundamental features which are at the center of, and are catalyzed by, the socio-economic processes, and the transition is deconstructed as a series of transitions – temporal ones and in-between categories which frame migrations.

Download the file: 

- pdf version, online edition, 102 pages (download here)

The print edition can be obtained by contacting New Left Perspectives or can be found in Social Center Haspel. 

New Left Perspectives and Collective for Social Interventions wish you a nice read!

15.12.2014, 19.00 at the fridge & xaspel
Sofia, 8 Madrid blvd.

“An economic suicide” – what is that? This peculiar social phenomenon has been haunting Europe since around the year 2008. It has become an ongoing landmark of the Eurozone financial crisis or the European sovereign debt crisis characterized by two related though not identical phenomena: the economic recession and the economic austerity regime, the latter being “imposed by the troika of the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank” (Stuckler and McKee, 2012). Moreover, numerous studies about the 2008 recession and its public health consequences have been accompanied in 2012 by the European Parliaments’ alarming statements promoting “the detrimental effects of the economic crisis on the mental health of European citizens”. It is true that such views could be (partially) explained in relation to the rise of citizens’ unemployment, impoverishment and general dispossession. However, the current trend of “increased suicidality amid economic crisis” (Economou et al., 2011) puts forward one pressing claim: that “every 1% increase in unemployment correlates to a 0.8% rise in suicides” (European Parliament 2012): this has led public health experts to conclude that “Europe is facing a mental health crisis” (European Parliament 2012). Thus, my question: Is Europe mentally ill? Given this framework, I argue that so-called economic suicides do not exist: what exists instead is the politico-juridical system of ongoing death-production through which it becomes possible to examine the current neoliberal matrix of necropower - and the political pseudo-suicides committed on behalf of it.

Marko Stamenkovic (1977, Vranje) is art historian and curator born and raised in the south of Serbia. He graduated in Art History from the University of Belgrade (2003) and received his M.A. degree in Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies from the University of Arts in Belgrade (2005). In 2014 he earned his doctoral degree in Philosophy from the University of Ghent (Belgium) with the thesis “Suicide Cultures. Theories and Practices of Radical Withdrawal”. His PhD research was realized at the Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences under Prof. Dr. Tom Claes (CEVI-Center for Ethics and Value Inquiry), supported by Basileus Scholarship, an Erasmus Mundus Action 2 project for academic exchange between EU and Western Balkans funded by the European Commission.



With reference to the journal Woman Today - established in 1936, in Belgrade, Yugoslavia as ‘a legal newspaper of the illegal Communist Party’ and later on as a journal of the Antifascist Front of Women - I would like to emphasis a necessity to reinvigorate the woman’s question stated by non-work and non-family politics (Kathi Weeks). Starting from the present socio-economical and existential conditions of woman today primary shaped by a patriarchal and capitalist vortex of unpaid, precarious, flexible woman’s work on the one hand, and heteronormative, nucleus and inflexible family based on ‘labor of love’, on the other, I would like to open discussion about possible (non)work and (non)family social ‘utopia’ from the woman’s perspective (woman is understood primary as a social subject). Few art-works and literary examples from the (post)Yugoslav space that deals with those issues will be presented as a common ground for the reflection and comparison between different times and spaces.

Jelena Petrović completed her PhD studies at the Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis (ISH) at the Ljubljana Graduate School of Humanities with a PhD dissertation on women’s authorship in Yugoslavia between the two world wars (2009). (Co)author of several scholarly articles, art-theory events, contemporary art exhibitions and cross-disciplinary projects relating to the (post)Yugoslav subjects, as well en (co)editor of several publications dealing with feminism from the (post)Yugoslav space. She is a member of the feminist curatorial group Red Min(e)d and currently a lecturer at the Academia of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana.

We can now offer for free download the catalogue we created after Sofia Queer Forum 2014 took place.
The edition marks also the establishing of New Left Perspectives’ publishing leg called Collective for Social Interventions.  
Sofia Queer Forum was an event that investigated, with the means of contemporary arts, gender and sexuality as parallel systems through which we value ourselves and the others around us. These systems have a strong influence on all aspects of culture and society. The influence is, of course, two-sided. This is why in focus here is also the changing of the concepts “gender” and “sexuality” depending on social, political, cultural and medical factors that are inherent in a given time and space.

On 1st of October the village of Gorni Lom in Northwestern Bulgaria was shaken by a huge explosion in a run-down arms disposal factory. This seems to be amongst the worst of a rising trend of industrial accidents in the country’s recent history. Fifteen people lost their lives in Gorni Lom. The blast was so intensive that nothing remains from the bodies of the victims, while there is only a huge crater left from what was once the premises of the factory. This factory is the only industry in the village, employing some 50 people. This blast was the sixth (!) to have occurred there in the past 12 years. According to Capital Weekly, in 2002 there were two blasts which tore down the trinitrotoluene workshop of the factory. In 2006 a fire broke out that killed Mr. Iliya Simov, one of the company engineers. In 2007 an explosion killed a 28-year old worker and hurt two others. In the same year another blast occurred, this time around without casualties. In 2010 a series of explosions there caused a fire. After the accident, 70 workers were sacked, forcing the 50 remaining workers to step up their efforts to dispose of an ever-increasing number of obsolete ammo and arms. This is aggravated by the piece-rate remuneration policy of the factory. As one worker explains, “If you scrap 1200 pieces, you will earn 17 euro cents per piece. If you can’t reach this level - you get only 13.5 cents.” This obviously worsens the risk of accidents since workers are racing under constant pressure to exceed the quota. Those 17 cents constitute only half of what the factory gets paid to dispose of the latest bunch of landmines that had arrived from Greece. The other half is pocketed by the owners. Пълният текст ...
The pre-term elections in Bulgaria scheduled to take place in October come in the midst of a deep political crisis and social disarray. Bulgaria’s right oriented vote in the past two decades has cost the country low budget redistribution, non-existent public services and social destabilization. Thousands of Bulgarian workers commence on a journey to Germany’s slaughter houses or Poland’s agricultural fields as they cannot secure employment in Bulgaria. In this respect, the unfolding enmity towards the working poor on a European scale, and as expressed in the openly declared battle against migrant labor coming from the East, may cost Bulgaria the anyways shaky social peace. Bulgaria needs to immediately address social inequalities.

In February 2013, Bulgaria erupted in the most massive protests to come after the early 90s. The wave of disarray was provoked by extremely high electricity and heating bills often exceeding one’s monthly salary. As barricades, self-immolations, daily street presence and police violence intensified the government at the time, the center right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) resigned. The situation in the country brought to power the neoliberal Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) in coalition with the liberal Movements for Rights and Freedom (DPS) which selected the independent Plamen Oresharski for a prime minister. The silence on the streets did not last for long when the infamous oligarch Delyan Peevski, was appointed head of the state agency for national security.  Despite 400 days of protest, BSP only resigned when the political and economic crisis escalated beyond proportion. A severe loss of votes to its coalition partner DPS and its rival GERB cracked the coalition. An acute banking crisis emptied out the little legitimacy that the financier PM had left to lose. Пълният текст ...
We can now offer for free download the catalogue we created after Sofia Queer Forum 2012 took place, in an edition published by Anarres Books. 
Sofia Queer Forum was an event that investigated, with the means of contemporary arts, gender and sexuality as parallel systems through which we value ourselves and the others around us. These systems have a strong influence on all aspects of culture and society. The influence is, of course, two-sided. This is why in focus here is also the changing of the concepts “gender” and “sexuality” depending on social, political, cultural and medical factors that are inherent in a given time and space.

Sofia Queer Forum 2012 took place in the period 20-25 November 2012 on various locations in Sofia. More info here.
We are delighted to announce the 2014 edition of Sofia Queer Forum, under the topic “Manifestations of the Personal”, through which we will investigate concepts of sexuality and gender identity as parts of the public/private spaces. The organizers invited for this year’s forum the young curator Stefka Tsaneva, already known as the editor-in-chief of the Blister magazine, to curate the programme.

This year the forum includes a wide variety of works, raising plenty of questions, presenting various points of views and most of all, opening up taboo-free space for discussion. The forum will feature an exhibition by young Bulgarian artists at Vaska Emanuilova Gallery, video installation by the Czech artist Darina Alster at the fridge & Social Center Xaspel, as well as a lecture by Amy Bryzgel, PhD in history of arts from Aberdeen University, Scotland, the author of one of the most encompassing studies on performance arts in Eastern Europe - Performing the East.

You can find the entire programme HERE
Sofia Queer Forum is supported by: Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung - Southeast Europe, Gaudenz Ruf Award, Czech Cultural Center – Sofia, Spectra Foundation, Organizers and co-organizers: Social Center Haspel & the fridge, New Left Perspectives, Vaska Emanouilova Gallery

Partners: The Red House Center for Culture and Debate, Julles Verne Club, ID Club.

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Sofia Queer Forum on Facebook
12.05.2014, 19.00 at the fridge & xaspel
Sofia, 8 Madrid. blvd

Cristofer Scarboro is an Associate Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at King's College (USA).  His first book: "The Late Socialist Good Life in Bulgaria: Meaning and Living in a Permanent Present Tense" was published in 2011 by Lexington Books.  Currently, Dr. Scarboro is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the American Research Center in Sofia.

The collapse of the socialist system in Bulgaria and elsewhere in Eastern Europe in the fall of 1989 was on its most basic level a failure of embourgeoisment—reflecting a deep sense of disappointment in the late socialist good life—the somewhat oxymoronic “middle class socialism.” On important levels, and in the classical accounts of the collapse of communism, this disappointment is understood as a reaction to the shoddy nature, and often absence of, the very goods socialism was supposed to deliver.  Collapse is explained as a failure of consumption in the face of the products of liberal democratic capitalism on display across the iron curtain.  But Eastern European consumer desires were fulfilled at least as often as they were found wanting.   In short, it is too simple and neat—it is too comforting and dangerous—to understand the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe as solely the result of dearth and repression. Bulgarian and East European dissatisfaction with Communism was also, and equally importantly, a reflection of the ennui, struggle, and boredom of living a life ordered by purely consumerist agendas.  This paper investigates the relationship between boredom and consumption in late socialist Bulgaria through the lens of visual art of the era.  Despite the lower standards of living vis-à-vis their Cold War competition, the Eastern European systems were remarkably good at producing stuff by almost any other historical measure.  Bulgarian art of the era reveals the emptiness of that stuff.
Dear colleagues,

New Left Perspectives and Social Center “Xaspel,” have the pleasure to invite you to the conference “Migrating in, migrating out: how to (re)think 'migrants’' struggles” that will take place on May 8th and May 9th 2014 in Sofia, Bulgaria. The event is supported by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.

We are honoured to host Vicki Squire, University of Warwick, who will deliver the keynote lecture and contribute to the discussions.

The goal of the conference is to bring critically together the phenomena of outward and inward migration and to question the sharp distinctions between what has been dubbed as ‘political’ and ‘economic’ migrants by weaving them into one conceptual framework. Our starting position stems from the understanding that we need to engage critically with dichotomies such as inside/outside; political/economic migration, illegal/legal which have been comfortably settled in mainstream research but also in political movements throughout Europe. With this workshop we strive to venture beyond and to visualize a framework that better explains the multifarious resistance practices of “migrants” in late capitalism. Therefore, we bring together academics and activists from several European countries to discuss these issues as intertwined in the larger European political context. We will map knowledges and strategies that go beyond the inside/outside dichotomy and citizen/non-citizen divide in order to fortify our common political efforts. Пълният текст ...