only through our boundaries.
In a recent issue of the Bulgarian periodical Sega (Now) a reporter related an extraordinary tale of how various name-changing campaigns had marked the experience of a Bulgarian-speaking Muslim—hereafter “Pomak”—in the village of Bachkovo. The story began during the Balkan Wars in 1912–1913 when Hasan, the aforementioned Pomak from the Rhodope mountains of southern Bulgaria, was forced to change his name to Dragan as part of the wartime state campaign for Muslims with “Slavic origins” to “reclaim their Bulgarian names.” A change in politics at the beginning of World War I opened the door for Dragan to change his name back to Hasan; and so he did. In the late 1930s, however, he was again compelled to change his name back to Dragan, in line with the Rodina (Homeland) directed name-changing campaigns, described in depth below. After the Communist takeover in 1944 Dragan was able, again, to change his name back to Hasan as wartime “Fascist” policy was reversed. But with the movement towards “national integration” in the 1960s Hasan was forced, again, to change his name back to Dragan. After the fall of Communism in Bulgaria in November 1989 “Dragan” again was allowed to change his name back to Hasan; and so he did. In his one lifetime this “Bulgarian” of Islamic faith, subject to the whims of the fickle and contested Bulgarian national project, changed his name six times. Admittedly, the Pomak's fate in Balkan history seems to be primarily as pawn in Bulgarian and other Balkan national rivalries and domestic designs. Pomak history is, more often than not, the story of the center looking to the margins and imposing its own designs. Having said that, these designs—generally driven by the dual forces of modernity and nationalism—were always subject to a spectrum of Pomak responses and strategies.