Stari Most, also known as Mostar Bridge, in Bosnia and Herzegovina (iStock photo).
“The book shows the emancipatory history of socialism through various historical approaches,” Todorova said. “I hope to have shown that scales of analysis require different methods and are based on different sources, and that the different scales of observation are all legitimate.”
that they can deconstruct this stereotype. They are not ashamed of their background. This is liberating.”
Her scholarly output is immense, covering Ottoman, modern Balkan, and imperial Russian history.
I chose history because I loved literature and mathematics,” Todorova said. “I felt that historical analysis would envelope both. I was trained as an Ottomanist, and I wanted to bring in quantitative methods.
Although she retired from Illinois in 2021, Todorova still has graduate students and serves on committees. She has contributed to what is
considered one of the strongest programs in Southeastern Europe globally. Her graduate students form what is often referred to as the “Todorova school” and work in academic institutions such as the Max Planck Institute, Boston College, UCLA, The Ohio State University, College of William & Mary, European University Institute, the University College London, the University of Illinois, the University of Groningen, and the University of Pittsburgh. Her home in Urbana became a favorite destination of the University’s East European Reading Group. Todorova’s retirement does not mean that her prodigious output has ended. “I’m toying with the idea of yet another project on Balkan history,” she said.
Her book “Balkan Family Structure and the European Pattern” (1993), utilized demographic techniques to examine a Balkan family formation, the zadruga, undermining Western stereotypes of the European family. Her latest book, “The Lost World of Socialists at Europe’s Margins: Imagining Utopia, 1870s–1920s” (2020), looks at the “golden age” of the socialist idea through the lens of the Bulgarian socialist movement in the late 19th century. “I was working on this book while a fellow at the Remarque Institute on 5th Avenue in New York,” she said. “I found it interesting to write about socialism from 5th Avenue.” By examining “memoir documents” of early socialists, she was able to produce a historical ethnography that took into account the problem of generalized ideological descriptions that rely on the silencing and erasure of peripheral movements.
By Maeve Reilly
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