Maria N. Todorova (born 1949, Sofia) is a Bulgarian historian and philosopher who is best known for her influential book, Imagining the Balkans, in which she applies Edward Said's notion of "Orientalism" to the Balkans. She is the daughter of historian and politician Nikolai Todorov, who was Speaker of the National Assembly of Bulgaria, and acting President of Bulgaria in 1990.
Professor Maria Todorova is currently a Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She specializes in the history of the Balkans in the modern period. Her book Imagining the Balkans has been translated into fourteen languages.
Todorova's current research revolves around problems of nationalism, especially the symbolism of nationalism, national memory and national heroes in Bulgaria and the Balkans. Between 2007-2010, she also led an international research team of scholars on the project: Remembering Communism.
She studied history and English at the University of Sofia, and obtained her PhD in 1977. Maria Todorova was subsequently Adjunct and Visiting Professor at various institutions - including Sabanci University in Istanbul and the University of Florida (where she was also Professor). She was awarded the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 2000.
Todorova is well known for her work concerning the history of the Balkans. Her groundbreaking work, Imagining the Balkans deals with the region's inconsistent (but usually negative) image inside Western culture, as well as with the paradoxes of cultural reference and its assumptions. In it, she develops a theory of Balkanism or Nesting Balkanisms, similar to Edward Said's Orientalism and Milica Bakić-Hayden's Nesting Orientalisms. She has said of the book:
The central idea of Imagining the Balkans is that there is a discourse, which I term Balkanism, that creates a stereotype of the Balkans, and politics is significantly and organically intertwined with this discourse. When confronted with this idea, people may feel somewhat uneasy, especially on the political scene...The most gratifying response to me came from a very good British journalist, Misha Glenny, who has written well and extensively on the Balkans. He said, 'You know, now that I look back, I have been guilty of Balkanism,' which was a really honest intellectual response.
Her publications include:
- Historians on History (in Bulgarian, Sofia, 1988), Selected Sources for Balkan History (in Bulgarian, Sofia, 1977)
- England, Russia, and the Tanzimat (in Russian, Moscow, 1983; in Bulgarian, Sofia, 1980)
- English Travelers' Accounts on the Balkans (16th-19th c.) (in Bulgarian, Sofia, 1987)
- Balkan Family Structure and the European Pattern: Demographic Developments in Ottoman Bulgaria, Central European University Press, 2006 
- Balkan Identities: Nation and Memory, Hurst, London & New York University Press, 2004
- Imagining the Balkans, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009 , ISBN 978-9989-851-31-5, OCLC 34282740
- "The Mausoleum of Georgi Dimitrov as lieu de mémoire," The Journal of Modern History Vol. 78, No. 2, June 2006
- Bones of Contention: the Living Archive of Vasil Levski and the Making of Bulgaria’s National Hero. Budapest: Central European University Press, 2009
- Postcommunist Nostalgia, Maria Todorova and Zsuzsa Gille (Eds.) Berghahn Books, 2010
- Remembering Communism: Genres of Representation. Social Science Research Council, 2010
- Remembering Communism: Private and Public Recollections of Lived Experience in Southeast Europe, (with Augusta Dimou and Stefan Troebst), CEU Press, 2014
- Savage, Michael. The Times (London) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article1100971.ece. Missing or empty
- Remembering Communism Project Website, http://www.rememberingcommunism.org/
- Maria Todorova - John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
- Ethnologia Balkanica, Sofia: Prof. M. Drinov Academic Pub. House, 1995, p. 37, OCLC 41714232,
the idea of "nesting orientalisms" in Bakic-Hayden 1995, and the related concept of "nesting balkanisms" in Todorova 1997 ...
- "Bones of contention". CLASnotes (University of Florida). November 1999. Retrieved 2009-09-11.
- Official Website
- Faculty Page at the UIUC
- Short interview
- Review of Remembering Communism''
- "Daring to Remember Bulgaria, pre-1989," an article in The Guardian from 9 November 2009