Decollectivization in Bulgaria
Gerald W. Creed
When I returned to the village of Zamfirovo in northeastern Bulgaria in the summer of 1992 I was engulfed by political commentary. Despite not having seen me for nearly four years, my village friends could scarcely get through the most superficial pleasantries before launching into analyses of current village developments. While some villagers supported the changes, many more, including the most vocal ones, were highly critical.
Emotions were particularly inflamed as I arrived during the early stages of decollectivization. The dominant local interpretation of this project quickly emerged in the form of a Bulgarian aphorism: "an old song in a new voice." During the time of my stay this adage was invoked repeatedly by a variety of villagers. For some it constituted their entire commentary on the issue of decollectivization; for others it provided a pithy syntheses at the beginning or end of a longer discourse. From the latter the meaning of the saying became clear: these villagers somehow saw post-socialist land restitution as a reprise of communist collectivization.
What could collectivization and decollectivization possibly have in common? As ostensibly opposite processes, the charge of similarity was paradoxical to say the least. In what follows I attempt to account for this paradox. I begin with a description of the decollectivization program with particular reference to the village of Zamfirovo. From this it becomes clear that the similarity between collectivization and decollectivization was not in their antithetical objectives, but in the parallel ways their divergent goals were pursued. The subsequent section of the paper discusses these similarities, pushing the folk model beyond the intentions of villagers who invoked it to reveal a series of continuities. These