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Petko Ivanov

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After World War II, the Soviet Union encouraged its satellite states in the Eastern Bloc to implement Russian language instruction in their schools as a soft power strategy of linguistic and cultural colonialism. The Russian language was a mandatory school subject in Bulgarian schools from 1944 to 1989. Although the Russian language did not come to dominate Bulgarian institutions and was not widely used in society, its study was imposed on the local population. This study endeavors to explore this educational practice through the lens of linguistic imperialism and resistance against it, classroom ethnography, memory studies and oral history using this framework to analyze Russian-language textbooks used in Bulgarian schools during this time period and interviews conducted with people who have lived through this experience. This study aims to uncover everyday forms of resistance within this totalitarian educational practice. Although many of the participants acknowledged the political connotations of their Russian language courses and some instances of resistance arose from personal accounts, the majority of people seem to hold predominantly positive memories of learning Russian as children.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.