Student Research Spotlight: Second-Year REEES MA Sydney Lazarus, “The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization”

The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization

For a while now I’ve been interested in the history of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), a revolutionary society that was founded in Ottoman Macedonia towards the end of the 19th century, and I’ve been researching this history during my time at REEEC. There’s a line in the Macedonian national anthem that consists of four men’s names (“Goce Delchev, Pitu Guli, Dame Gruev, Sandanski”), and it repeats twice. A few years ago I lived in Macedonia and learned the anthem. Now I’ve forgotten most of the lines, but I do remember the names. After all, many streets in Macedonia were named after these figures, statues and busts were erected in their honor, schools were named after them, villages were named after them. When asked who Goce Delchev is, one of my former students, a second grader at the time, blurted out, “He’s a statue!”

It is relatively rare for individuals’ names to appear in national anthems. I have not looked at the texts of all current national anthems, but some time ago I did look through a few dozen. The only other anthem I came across that mentioned an individual name was Andorra’s, and the individual was Charlemagne. Goce Delchev (1872-1903), Pitu Guli (1865-1903), Dame Gruev (1871-1906), and Jane Sandanski (1872-1915) were all members of — and served in various capacities as leaders in — IMRO. The organization split into factions soon after its 1903 Ilinden Uprising, and by the middle of the 20th century, IMRO activities had come to an end. The focus of my research this semester is on the legacy of IMRO in Macedonia during the Yugoslav era and afterwards. (IMRO members are also national heroes in Bulgaria, but my paper will focus on Macedonia.) There were many historical figures who were active in IMRO, with clashing visions for Macedonia. How were these different IMRO figures presented by different political leaders, and how were their narratives told? How did Goce Delchev go from schoolteacher to statue?

The above is my plan for my MA paper as of early February 2019. As for longer-term plans, I am not applying to PhD programs. However, I do intend to continue studying Russian, which other than IMRO, is my main academic interest right now, at Middlebury College.


Sydney Lazarus is a second-year M.A. student at REEEC. Her research interests include language and education policy in contemporary Macedonia. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and Slavic languages and literature from Northwestern University.

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