About the Conference

Revisiting the centuries of cultural exchange, the conference “Europe and the Orient: Past Encounters, Heritage, and Present-Day Interactions” will approach the interpretation of these contacts today, when East-West relationships are marked by new challenges. Scholars and practitioners from different countries will deliver presentations on past and present interactions between the European continent and the Orient. Whist various forms of contact are addressed (religious, social, economic, military), the emphasis is laid on the cultural interactions. The organizers hope that this scientific event held within in the framework of the Project ICANH ("L’Islam c’est aussi notre histoire") co-financed by the “Culture” Programme of the European Commission (2013-2018) will help for the enhancement of the cultural dialogue and understanding across the wide geographic space across Europe, Mediterranean, and the Middle East.

Main topics

  • Layers of cultural heritage from the Orient in Europe (Arabic, Ottoman, colonial, etc.) – tangible and intangible dimensions
  • Symbolic construction of the Orient in Europe and of Europe in the Orient – historical and present-day discourses;
  • Exchanges of ideas, words, images and patterns between Europe and the Orient – representations in literature, music, architecture and visual arts;
  • Historical personalities and artistic figures that epitomize the relationships between Europe and the Orient
  • Traces and representations of the Orient in contemporary art, journalism, advertising and new media;
  • Quotidian encounters – the influence of the Orient in everyday life, cuisine, fashion, crafts, etc.;
  • Museum reflections of the relationships between Europe and the Orient – artifacts, narratives, discourses;
  • Tourism, cultural diplomacy, and cultural routes between Europe and the Orient;

Conference Organizer

The Conference is organized within the framework of ICANH by theBulgarian Partner of the Project: the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (IEFSEM-BAS). 

Project partners

Scientific committee


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nikolai Vukov – IEFSEM-BAS

Team leader & Chair Scientific Committee

Nikolai Vukov is Associate Professor at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and visiting professor at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” and Plovdiv University “Paissii Hilendarski.” He has Ph.D. in folklore studies from the Institute of Folklore in Sofia, and a Ph.D. in modern history from Central European University – Budapest. Nikolai Vukov has held specializations at many universities and research institutes: Wissenschaftskoleg – Berlin, Musée des sciences de l’homme – Paris, American Research Institute in Turkey – Istanbul, etc. Currently he is a fellow within “Teaching Europe” Fellowship Program of the Center for Advanced Studies – Sofia and New Europe College – Bucharest. In 2014-2017 he has been Bulgarian representative in the Intergovernmental Committee of UNESCO for Intangible Cultural Heritage. Nikolai Vukov is author and editor of several books and has published numerous articles on memory and commemorations, monuments and museums, cultural heritage and 20th century history.


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Bozhidar Alexiev – IEFSEM-BAS

Bojidar Alexiev is Associate Professor, Ph.D., at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. He has Ph.D. from the Institute of Folklore in Sofia, and M.A. in history and ethnology from “St. Kliment Ohridski” University of Sofia. His main interests are in the fields of popular Islam, popular Christianity, and Balkan Muslims’ identities. Bojidar Alexiev is author of the book Seven Muslim Saints in Bulgaria (Sofia, 2012) and of articles on traditional culture and religious cults in the Balkans, e.g. The Being of Two Musical Traditions in the Modern World: Transformed or Constructed? – In: Proceedings of the Existing Musical Forms and Traditional Cultures of the Peoples of the Border Regions of Turkey and Bulgaria. Ankara, 2010, 49–55; Kulurelle Organisationen der Türken in Bulgarien und Idenität zu Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts: vom Ethnischen zum Übernaionalen. – Jahrbuch für Europäische Ethnologie, 11, 2016, 127–136.


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Galina Lozanova – IEFSEM-BAS

Galina Lozanova, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Department of Comparative Folklore Studies at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. She has authored numerous papers and articles on the Islamic ritual and narrative traditions of the Pomaks. Her major work is the book The Creation in the Oral Tradition of Muslim Bulgarians (Sofia, 2008).


Assistant Prof. Dr. Iglika Mishkova – IEFSEM-BAS

Iglika Mishkova, Ph.D. is a museum curator and researcher in the field of intangible cultural heritage representation in European museums. She was instrumental in the preparation of the Surova folk feast in Pernik region candidacy for its acceptance in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2015. Curator of dozens of exhibitions in the Bulgarian National Ethnographic Museum, she always creates unforgettable experiences visually and conceptually connecting the rituals, traditions and folklore to museum objects. Engaging presenter, she is often invited to international forums to share her theoretical and practical insights on museum transformations from collections' repositories into places for information and entertainment, intangible cultural heritage interpretations and fun for all generations.


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Evgenia Troeva-Grigorova – IEFSEM-BAS

Evgenia Troeva-Grigorova, Ph.D. in Ethnology, is Associate Professor at the Department “Historical Ethnology” of the Institute for Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. She is author of two books (The Demons of the Rhodopi Mountain, and Religion, Memory, Identity: The Muslim Bulgarians), co-author of other two (Minority Rights, Inter-ethnic and Inter-religious Relations in Municipalities with Diverse Population, and Zwangsarbeit in Bulgarien (1941-1962). Erinnerungen von Zeitzeugen), and has published a number of articles on the topics of inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations, cultural memory and traditional heritage.


Partner to the Scientific Organizational Committee: Vizantia International Ltd. and Dr. Rossitza Ohridska-Olson, University of Library Sciences and Information Technologies. Roles: marketing, logistics and satellite events.

International Conference

Europe and the Orient: Past Encounters, Heritage, and Present-Day Interactions

26-29 September 2018
Sofia, Bulgaria