Mobile Elites: Bulgarian Emigrants in the Middle of the Nineteenth Century and the Accommodation of Difference in the Balkans
Graduiertenschule für Ost- und Südosteuropastudien, Universität Regensburg
This article addresses the issue of accommodating difference through an analysis of a specific group of mobile public actors who can be defined as “mobile elites.” Using the Bulgarian emigrants in the middle of the nineteenth century as a typical case of an exiled elite, I link this case to other European Romantic intellectuals and sketch a grand-scale scheme of regional traffic in ideas. I suggest that emigration as such instigates the consolidation of nationalist elites. Thus, elites can be viewed as large, separate, and often mobile groups, which negotiate their respective interests and search for compromises.
I contend that mobile public actors influence the societies in which they dwell by creating sets of networks which stretch over the whole region. The notion of “mobile elites” can therefore be a helpful tool in defining emigrant intellectuals. Furthermore, the activities of these intellectuals shed light on the ways in which migrant groups seek accommodation, pursue their political aims, and attempt to find compromises which can eventually yield beneficial outcomes.
Keywords: migration, elite theory, social networking, Bulgarian nation and state-building, Georgi Rakovski, Hristo Botev, othering.