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Marginalization and identity : the case of the Bulgarian face-veil ban

Vachkova, Maya


Maya Vachkova


Gerry Johnstone


This thesis investigates the face-veiling ban in Bulgaria. The data were collected via semi-structured discussions with participants coming from all the main Muslim minorities in Bulgaria. Respondents were asked about their attitudes to the face-veil as well as the ban. An innovative approach to data analysis was employed.
The research found four positions on the face-veil ban: two of in favour of the ban and two against. The four positions make sense as interacting parts of a system of marginalization and identity formation. While this system had origins in the political debates leading up to the face-veil ban (indeed, those debates tapped into centuries of prior history), it came into full form when the ban was passed into law; i.e., the legal intervention was pivotal in formalising the marginalization and cementing it in place. It transpires that systems of marginalization and identity formation can arise from legal interventions that ‘profanitize’ people and behaviours.
The research yields three insights. First, it brings to light the importance of legislation to processes of marginalization and identity formation.
Second, the evolution of legal processes is examined in light of ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’ legal categories, thus extending marginalization theory: the evolution of the legislation is mapped, and it is concluded that an initially marginal political player, the Nationalist Party, gained an electoral advantage by portraying face-veiled Muslims as profane. They thereby moved from the margins to the centre of the political landscape.
The third insight is that, despite having a binary (marginal versus central) at the core of its logic, marginalization is not uniformly experienced, expressed and legislated for: the impacts of forms of marginalization can be viewed as lying on a spectrum.
Contributions have been made to understanding the impacts of banning the face-veil, as well as to the systems theories of identity and marginalization.


Vachkova, M. (2021). Marginalization and identity : the case of the Bulgarian face-veil ban. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Publication Date Mar 1, 2021
Deposit Date Nov 10, 2021
Publicly Available Date Feb 24, 2023
Keywords Business
Public URL
Additional Information Business School, The University of Hull


Thesis (2.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2021 Vachkova, Maya. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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