Emanuela Grama

Assistant Professor
Ph.D.: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2010
Department Member Since: 2013


My research interests lie in the politics of architecture and urban planning in 20th century Central and Eastern Europe. I focus on representations of “national heritage” in socialist Central and Eastern Europe, and the ways in which they continue to inform and challenge claims of property restitution in a post-1989 context. Specifically, I examine the simultaneous processes of built heritage reevaluation and restitution and the refashioning of ethnic identities through the discourse of cultural property and cultural rights in contemporary Romania.

In my book manuscript, I show how the socialist regime relied on archaeologists and curators to endorse a shift from a representation of heritage as buildings to that of heritage as archaeological artifacts, which would be further collected and displayed in a national network of museums. A centralized heritage, I argue, offered legitimacy to a communist government that had been imposed by external political actors in the aftermath of the Second World War. An analysis of the cultural politics of heritage-making during socialism offers new insight into the more recent debates over private property restitution. Such debates have directly impacted upon the ways in which Romanian citizens of various ethnic and religious background have redefined their relationship to the postsocialist state, and have amended their decisions in a highly unpredictable political and economic environment.

My additional interests include the history of science and technology during the Cold War; the development of “memory studies” in post-1945 Europe, and their direct impact on the emergence of alternative historiographies; and the debates on “development” and “modernization” through international interventions in civic and state-building projects pursued in interwar Eastern Europe.


“Creating ‘the Science of the Nation’: the Romanian Social Institute, Social Work and the Politics of Modernization in 1930s Romania.” In preparation for submission to Slavic Review
“Impenetrable Plans and Porous Expertise: Building a Socialist Bucharest, Reconstructing Its Past (1958-1968).” EUI Working Papers, Max Weber Programme 2012
“Letters, Plans, and Walls: Architects, Archeologists, and Institutional Politics in Bucharest of the 1960s.” Anthropology of East Europe Review 57, 2: 56-67
“Work, State, and the Linguistic Construction of ‘Self’ in Romania of the 1950s and 1960s. (A Case Study).” Romanian Journal of Society and Politics 5, 2: 38-64
“Networking Texts and Persons: Politics of Plagiarism in Postsocialist Romania.” Romanian Journal of Society and Politics 4, 2: 148-173

Courses Taught

The Politics and Culture of Memory
Science and Technology in the Cold War

Contact Info

Department of History
Baker Hall 238-A
P: 412.268.3285
F: 412.268.1019