In the summer of 2021, a team of researchers from the Department of Ethnology, working on the European stories project, developed a methodology for studying urban histories, which they applied in the organized summer field work with a group of students in Stara Zagora. The field research was in cooperation with the Departments of Tourism and Youth Activities and Culture of the Municipality of Stara Zagora, as well as with the Deputy Mayor Milena Jeleva. Students were taught on-site basic knowledge and skills related to the anthropological view in the study of urban history, the community approach to narrative and storytelling as an analytical tool and its application in the presentation of anthropological knowledge in tourism and cultural activities.
In the field, students met and talked with representatives of local communities and identified important stories of/for the city. During the fieldwork, thay held discussions on anthropological tools that identify both dominant narratives and alternative perspectives on places, people, and events. In this work the project team used part of the developed methodology, which was presented during the first training in the European Stories project, and upgraded with more knowledge and skills specific to the training of students in ethnology and anthropology.
The students conducted observations, interviews, numerous conversations and internet research in connection with the important narratives of the city and after returning to Plovdiv they worked on and archived all collected files in the Center for Intangible Cultural Heritage of Paisii Hilendarski University. These materials will be used by the Department of Tourism and Youth Activities of the Municipality of Stara Zagora in the development of new tourism products.
The practical training of the students included participation in the city tour “Stara Zagora – untold stories on the straight streets”, organized especially for their group by Maria Slavcheva PhD. This tour was developed after her participation in the „European Stories“ project training and is practically the first tourist product of this kind for the Municipality of Stara Zagora. In this way the students had the opportunity to participate in the application of a storytelling approach in tourism and to analyze the choices that the anthropologist and the expert have to make in using stories for experience-based tourism products.