Balkan Village

Balkan Village

Irwin T. Sanders
Copyright Date: 1949
Pages: 332
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130j3hs
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  • Book Info
    Balkan Village
    Book Description:

    In the Balkans today Communism, with its dynamic drive for power and sense of mission, is charging against the Balkan peasant mass, a patient, religious, tradition-bound people tilling their beloved soil. Dragalevtsy, the Balkan village described by Mr. Sanders, brings this struggle into focus. The book details the way of life of a tranquil rural folk clinging to a Bulgarian mountainside, in the shadow of a twelfth- century monastery -- their history, economic system, marriage customs, family life, and reluctant yielding to the ways of the western world. On September 6, 1944, Dragalevtsy peasants awoke to find posters in the streets proclaiming the advent of Communism. The concluding chapters of the book give a vital, personalized insight into the economic and social forces now at work in the Balkans.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6423-6
    Subjects: History, Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. FOREWORD
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Irwin T. Sanders

    The Europe of headlines and newsreels and newscasts is a Europe we Americans know all too well. It is the Europe of swiftly maneuvering armies, umbrellas of planes, and scorched earth. Its air is filled with noisy propaganda, whispered intrigue, and the cries of starving children. This was the Europe of tottering dictators and victims restive for the day of liberation.

    There is another Europe whose foundations are laid far in the past of people working a well-loved land, of peaceful rivers carrying barges laden with fruit and grain, of families of storks returning from Egypt, as they have for...

  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENT
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. CHAPTER I THE PEOPLE AND THEIR VILLAGE
    (pp. 1-20)

    Winter had begun. The first snow of the year had fallen. It covered the muddy streets of the village, softening the nakedness of the fruit trees which stood lonely in the bare yards. The wind from Mount Vitosha came whistling down the empty lanes, sending both man and beast to seek protection and warmth. The animals huddled in their thatched folds and shelters; the women and children crowded on the little stools near the fireplace at home. The fall sowing of wheat was in. The fields, wind-swept and snow-laden, were deserted, seemingly forgotten by the men and women who had...

  6. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. None)
  7. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. None)
  8. CHAPTER II THE HOUSE BECOMES A HOME
    (pp. 21-41)

    Although I had been studying Bulgarian peasant life for three years before concentrating upon Dragalevtsy, I never ceased to marvel at the home life of these people. Their quiet, satisfied way of taking their marriage partners for granted, the manner in which they treated their children, and the brief courting days of the young invariably fascinated me. Therefore, I started at the beginning to learn.

    “How do you build a house?” I asked, eager to check my observations with their frequently droll explanations of why they did as they did.

    The seriousness with which the peasants replied showed that building...

  9. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. None)
  10. CHAPTER III LAND, LABOR, AND MONEY
    (pp. 42-59)

    A peasant’s life in spring and summer centered around the narrow strips of earth which surrounded the village. If the scene of labor was distant from the village, the tired workers who had been at their tasks since sunup often spent the night in the field rather than trudge the long way back home. In the middle of the morning, at noon, and again in midafternoon, the toilers stopped long enough for food, sometimes only bread and salt, and a little sleep. The burning noonday sun sifted through the leaves of the solitary tree beneath which the people sprawled. Fragile...

  11. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. None)
  12. CHAPTER IV THE GOOD OLD DAYS
    (pp. 60-72)

    The Dragalevtsy of 1937 had much in common with the Dragalevtsy of the past centuries. The dances, the homes, and the farm practices proved that. The differences were also marked. For instance, a crude but efficient means of population control in the good old days was the killing off of the old people when they had passed the period of active usefulness. That at least was the theme of an old folk tale still current in the village. “It so happened that one spring the people discovered that they had saved no grain for sowing. The king sent men everywhere...

  13. CHAPTER V THE COURTSHIP AND WEDDING
    (pp. 73-91)

    Whenever I asked a man or a woman “How did you come to marry?” the response was always the same. After an embarrassed laugh, the person would say, “Oh, it’s so long ago. I have forgotten. I have not had time to remember such foolish things.” Then would come a quick look at me from dark eyes that never seemed to lose their brilliance even when the broad face was sagging, deeply lined with the years. “You really want to know?” First it came haltingly; then soon the man would drop the harness he was mending or the woman would...

  14. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. None)
  15. CHAPTER VI MARRIAGE
    (pp. 92-112)

    The Bulgarian groom settled down naturally into the role of the married man as the embarrassment of the first few days of good-natured joshing wore away. He took less and less interest in the Sunday afternoon promenade, preferring to sit in front of the tavern with the other married men where he liked to be complimented on the woman he had chosen in the same way that he would appreciate compliments on a cow just bought. However, as marriage progressed he began to respect his wife as a person rather than as a possession.

    It was when the first child...

  16. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. None)
  17. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. None)
  18. CHAPTER VII PARENTS AND CHILDREN
    (pp. 113-143)

    Are children gods or kings that older people should tremble over them?” was the way one village woman reacted to what she considered the newfangled ideas of child rearing taught by the village doctor. Another woman said to me, “Why should so much be made of children when there is no sense of their living in such a heavy life?”

    These attitudes reflected themselves in the statistics of infant mortality, which were given in Chapter II but deserve repetition. Back in 1926 one out of every five babies born alive died during its first year; this figure had fallen to...

  19. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. None)
  20. CHAPTER VIII FAMILISM, A CHANGING WAY OF LIFE
    (pp. 144-160)

    The day at last arrived when I could anticipate the peasants’ answers to most of the questions that I asked them. When I inquired what they would do if they had five hundred dollars to spend, I could list in advance the items they would name. The older people, especially, thought and acted largely in terms of the Dragalevtsy of the “good old days,” when life was lived in afamilisticway because the family played the major role in the community. When I understood the characteristics of familism, as a result of observing and reading about peasant life in...

  21. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. None)
  22. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. None)
  23. CHAPTER IX THE NATIONAL STATE AS INTRUDER AND REFORMER
    (pp. 161-182)

    In Dragalevtsy, as in agricultural villages throughout the world, the national state was building up a loyalty in competition with the unquestioned loyalty people used to give to their family group and their community. The spread of the government-sponsored school, though its scientific teachings were elementary, weakened the hold of the formalistic, institutionalized religion which went along with a familistic society. Because of the school there was increased conflict between the older and younger generations.

    Not only in time of war but also in time of peace the national government had been calling its young men to leave their plows...

  24. CHAPTER X PRELUDE TO COMMUNISM (1937-1944)
    (pp. 183-195)

    Returning to Bulgaria in the fall of 1945 meant returning to a defeated, occupied enemy country. Because I had followed the political events only from a distance, I was anxious to see how native Bulgarians, and particularly my Dragalevtsy friends, would interpret what had happened during the intervening years. Overshadowing all, of course, had been their active collaboration with the Germans.

    Germany’s entrance into Bulgaria proved a comparatively easy achievement. Basic to the plan was the conviction on the part of the Bulgarian people that Germany would actually win the war and give them a safe way of profiting at...

  25. CHAPTER XI COMMUNISM KNOCKS AT THE DOOR
    (pp. 196-220)

    Communism came in the dead of the night. Dragalevtsy people awoke on September 6, 1944, the morning after Russia had declared war on Bulgaria, to find big posters proclaiming throughout the village such slogans as “Welcome to the Heroic Red Army” or “Long Live Stalin.”

    The peasants realized in retrospect how well organized everything must have been, for these signs showed that the local Communist sympathizers had been ready for this big event. One or two had fought in the mountains against the Germans as Bulgarian Partisans and had been schooled in the part they were to play when the...

  26. APPENDIX I. Tables about the People and Their Farms
    (pp. 222-226)
  27. APPENDIX II. A NOTE ON TAXES (1937)
    (pp. 227-227)
  28. APPENDIX III. AN INVENTORY OF STOCK CONTAINED IN A DRAGALEVTSY GROCERY STORE IN MARCH, 1937
    (pp. 228-229)
  29. APPENDIX IV. NEIGHBORHOODS AND NEIGHBORLY RELATIONS IN A BULGARIAN VILLAGE
    (pp. 230-236)
  30. APPENDIX V. THE SOCIAL CONTACTS OF A BULGARIAN VILLAGE
    (pp. 237-249)
  31. APPENDIX VI. SOCIOMETRIC WORK WITH A BULGARIAN WOODCUTTING GROUP
    (pp. 250-259)
  32. APPENDIX VII. THE FOLK APPROACH IN EXTENSION WORK A BULGARIAN EXPERIENCE
    (pp. 260-265)
  33. [Illustration]
    (pp. None)
  34. APPENDIX VIII. BULGARIANS AND SOUTHERN RURAL WHITES IN CONTRAST
    (pp. 266-274)
  35. A NOTE ON METHODOLOGY AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 275-278)
  36. GLOSSARY OF BULGARIAN WORDS USED MOST FREQUENTLY
    (pp. 279-280)
  37. INDEX
    (pp. 281-291)