Baba Vanga or “Grandmother” Vanga



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What is this project?

Baba (or Grandmother) Vanga became famous in her lifetime (1911-1996) and continues to capture the imagination of Bulgarians and a global (virtual) public who revere her as psychic, seer, healer, saint, and prophet, or revile her as charlatan, spy, or medium for “demons”. GDIL’s Vanga team, headed by Dr. Mary Neuburger, is taking an interdisciplinary approach to study of the Vanga phenomenon in its national, regional, and global context from the Cold War era until today. Cullan Bendig heads Team Vanga’s efforts to unravel how and why Vanga became a psychic/paranormal phenomenon by the mid-20th century — a period when psychics and the paranormal became objects not only of public fascination, but also of scientific study and state attention. Adam Hanzel co-leads Team Vanga and focuses team research on Vanga’s changing place in religious rhetoric and practice, namely her relationship to the Bulgarian but also the Russian Orthodox Church. He is also in charge of Vanga’s contemporary global afterlife on the web.

Read our blog post here:


Task Team Leaders: Adam Hanzel and Cullan Bendig

Faculty Lead: Dr. Mary Neuburger

History of this Project

Team Vanga has been archiving and reading material related to physics, religion, and society in Eastern Europe since Spring 2022. We are currently at the stage where we can begin writing two articles for academic journals as well as an article for the UT history website “Not Even Past.” In terms of onboarding, the reading load is (subjectively) a lot more interesting than more theoretically heavy topics at GDIL; Team Vanga regularly has relevant works that cover topics from aliens, psychic powers and the state, and predicting Putin’s return of Russia to a place of global power, to Bulgarian Orthodoxy, theories of power and belief, and alternative eastern orthodoxies that oppose the official Orthodox Church in Russia and Bulgaria.

Goals for 2022-2023
  • Publishing two articles, one on Vanga as psychic/paranormal phenomenon, another on Vanga as both a demonic and holy icon in Eastern Orthodoxy.
  • Exploring data visualization options for archival letters to Vanga from around the world.
What students will learn
  • Methods of archiving and logging archival data in modern citation software
  • Qualitative methodologies
  • Interdisciplinary writing styles and methods
  • (possibly) Arcgis mapping of letter correspondence and analysis

Get in Touch

Want to work with us? Have an idea for a project? Curious about some aspect of the lab? Please reach out. We promise we’re friendly!