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The Vegetarian Commune in Proslav (Plovdiv) and the Tolstoyan Communities in Bulgaria

When: Thursday, May 9, 2024, 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Where: Senior Common Room, ArtsTwo Building, Queen Mary University of London, 335 Mile End Road, London, E1 4FQ, Mile End

A part of a mini-series talk on “Contemporary Debates in Post-Socialist Theory and Practice”, a collaboration between CEREES and the University of Warwick 

Zhivka Valiavicharska (Pratt Institute, New York)

The Vegetarian Commune in Proslav (Plovdiv) and the Tolstoyan Communities in Bulgaria

This paper presents the history of the vegetarian land communes in Bulgaria influenced by the Russian writer and social thinker Lev Tolstoy. Pledging to build a life ‘without the exploitation of one being by another,’ their members emphasized connection to land and the environment and practiced horizontal communalism, egalitarian spiritualism, and vegetarianism in conscious opposition to private property and the enclosures of land, against militarism and the use of violence, and against state power and the Church. There were over a dozen communes formed in Bulgaria during the first three decades of the twentieth century, and most of them lasted for only a few years. In this talk Zhivka will bring into focus the history of a vegetarian land commune founded in 1926 near Plovdiv, Bulgaria, which survived for over thirty years and served as a hub for vegetarian, Tolstoyan, anarchist, and alternative spiritual communities in the country.

Zhivka Valiavicharska is a political theorist and art historian working on the social, cultural, and visual histories of twentieth-century Bulgaria and Eastern Europe. She is Associate Professor at Pratt Institute, New York, and the author of Restless History: Political Imaginaries and their Discontents in Post-Stalinist Bulgaria (McGill University Press, 2021).


Neda Genova (University of Warwick) & Maria Chehonadskih (QMUL)


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