Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Donal Carbaugh

Second Advisor

Benjamin Bailey

Third Advisor

Emily West

Fourth Advisor

Denise Ives

Subject Categories

International and Intercultural Communication


The following dissertation raises these questions: how do people talk about their communication, and what role does this play as constructing a widely used cultural resource? The specific data concerns oplakvane, referring both to a key cultural term and a range of communication practices in Bulgaria. This term, and these practices are explored through the theoretical and methodological frame of cultural communication (Philipsen, 1981-87), ethnography of communication (Hymes, 1962), and cultural discourse analysis (Carbaugh, 1992, 2007a, 2010). The analyses demonstrate how oplakvane, which can loosely be translated as “complaining” and “mourning”, functions as a deeply shared cultural resource for communication (Carbaugh, 1989a) and as a system of deeply rooted communication practices. These practices often occur in a cyclical form, in a ritualized manner (Philipsen, 1987), which, when enacted, pays homage in re-constructing a sacred object, a particular Bulgarian identity. Through and within oplakvane practices, a specific cultural “reality” connected to the larger narrative of the Bulgarian “situation” is reconstituted, with radiants of meaning being activated for identity, elaborated through its deep sense of dwelling, related emotions, and habits of routine action. The findings, therefore, offer an understanding of oplakvane as a Bulgarian way in which communication constitutes culture, and works as a discursive resource for the management and recreation of the Bulgarian cultural landscape. Discussion of the findings demonstrates how the study enriches the ethnography of communication field substantively, theoretically, and methodologically.