Articles by Jana Tsoneva

About Jana Tsoneva

Jana Tsoneva is a PhD student in Sociology at CEU, Budapest. Her research interests focus on the history of ideas, political economy and theory of ideology. Jana is a member of Social Center Xaspel, Sofia and of the New Left Perspectives collective. She also co-authors Hysterical Parrhesia (a Lacanian-Marxist blog).

“Bulgarian welfare does not combat poverty but the poor”*

The article was originally published in the portal of the Bulgarian left, New Left Perspectives. KOI’s 2018 report “The people” against welfare payments: or the art of making those in need ask for more restrictions against themselves authored by Vanya Grigorova is a follow-up of an earlier, 2016 report entitled Poor against poor. That previous report detailed the ever-proliferating types of welfare payments existent in Bulgaria, the common misconceptions about them, and the discursive and policy stratagems the Right deploys to limit access to the social safety nets. The main thesis, then and now, is that t ..

When is OK to shut down a newspaper? “Economic” vs. “Political” Pressure on the Public Sphere

Note from the LeftEast editors: The Bulgarian media market is extremely concentrated and under immense pressure to contract still further. Several analytical outlets have recently shut down due to financial constraints. The lack of media pluralism and the severe ownership concentration have been reflected in the recent decision of Reporters Without Borders to downgrade the country’s media freedom ranking from 35th to 111th place. In this short piece, Jana Tsoneva zooms in on the latest chapter of media closures and attacks on press freedom. The article is published in collaboration with the web portal Bilt ..

Bulgarian Lessons: Liberalism as Market Power plus Expensive Electrification of the Whole Country

This article is published in cooperation with the Serbo-Croation portal Bilten.org. The past few days, a high-voltage scandal is literally grilling the main politicians and business elites in Bulgaria: an obscure local energy company is going to buy the Bulgarian assets of the largest electricity distribution company in the country, owned by the Czech state company CEZ. The intensity of the controversy belies a deeper debate over when a private business deal constitutes a legitimate public concern. In short, the deal has exposed some paradoxes underpinning the separation between public and private, so dear to li ..

In the Name of the Constitution: Ethnic Minorities and Technologies of Disenfranchisement in Bulgaria

Note from the editors: Starting next month Bulgaria will assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union. To acknowledge this momentous occasion, this month LeftEast will carry two texts by Jana Tsoneva analyzing the politics of contemporary Bulgaria. This article originally appeared in July on the Serbo-Croatian portal Bilten and is republished here with their generous permission. It is a habit of the lazy mind to associate only ex-Yugoslavia with ethnic conflicts, but in the late 1980s Bulgaria, too, was on the brink of an “ethnic war”. The post-1956 period regime was marked by the increase of ra ..

Race to the Bottom: The Battle over Minimum Wage in Bulgaria

Ten years after Bulgaria joined the European Union as its poorest member, its economy works at two speeds, deepening the income gap between poor low-skilled workers and a handful of well payed employees working in the country’s booming areas such as IT and auto parts. The following article was originally published in Serbo-Croatian by the online platform, Bilten. Its English version is published here with the site’s kind permission. It is a truism that the wage is one of the most contested aspects in the relation between capitalists and workers. Nothing reveals better the fundamental incomprehensibility ..

Antarctica: the Last Frontier of Bulgaria’s Colonialist Dream

The following article was originally published in Serbo-Croatian by the online platform, Bilten. Its English version is published here with the site’s kind permission. Around mid-December 2016 a news piece announced that a monument to the Cyrillic alphabet is to be erected in Antarctica. It is a joint Bulgarian-Mongolian project. The news about the monument raised some eyebrows as to the practicality of having a monument to the alphabet in a place with hardly anyone around to appreciate it. I will leave the issue of the “metaphysical” monuments and structures devoid of any function beyond a pure self-refer ..

“Of the past let us make a crime…”: Anti-Populism and the Politics of Memory in Bulgarian Liberalism

Notes from the LeftEast editors: this article is published in cooperation with Bilten.Org where it appeared in Serbo-Croatian on the 12/16/2016. Note from the author on the English language publication: In this article I focus on the latest chapter of the ongoing ‘memory wars’ in Bulgarian public and political life. I tease out the demophobic implications of the latest amendment in the 2000 Law that declares Communism a criminal regime. Anti-communism was the staple food of the 1990s democratic opposition: “democracy” was conceived as anti-communist by definition. The more time passes, however, t ..

The Waste Commodity Chains

This article is published in collaboration with the regional portal Bilten. We are habituated to think that polluting things such as garbage normally fall on minorities to deal with in order to keep them as far from us as possible. Thus, conveniently the most “polluting” social classes are tasked with the organization of garbage. For example, in Bulgaria it is the urban Roma work who predominantly for the garbage collection companies. Their symbolic position in social space (as the lowliest and most marginal “caste”) is completed by their inhabiting the physically most marginal spaces in the city and havi ..

How one regime’s conspirator became another’s victim of a conspiracy

This article was published in co-operation with the regional portal Bilten. July will go down as one of the most tumultuous months of 2016 in Europe. The rapid series of terrorist attacks across Germany and France had barely allowed us a modicum of time to digest them, when the failed July 15th coup attempt in Turkey sent shock waves throughout the world. One of these waves splashed across the breakwaters of its northern neighbor and triggered a curious political controversy domestically. In what follows I recount how the tragedy of a single asylum applicant became the vehicle through which liberal media and acti ..

Victory Day: a Photo-Peport from the Coal-Miners’ Strike in Bobov Dol

translated by Peter Bankov The town of Bobov dol sports some of the largest coal mining facilities in Bulgaria. The mining industry there has a hundred-year history but it really took off during socialism when the biggest investment and modernization of the mines occurred. Since 2006 the mines have been operating under a regime of government concession which effectively means privatization without transfer of ownership. The first concession of Bobov dol mines was given to “Pirin Oranovo EOOD” for the shocking sum of 1 BGN (This kind of gift-privatization was common in the 1990s when the state gifted state ent ..