Theodora Dragostinova


Theodora Dragostinova



236 Dulles Hall
230 Annie and John Glenn Avenue
Columbus, OH

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Areas of Expertise

  • Modern European History
  • East European History
  • Race, Ethnicity, and Nation
  • Migration and Mobility
  • Global and Transnational History


  • BA, Kapodistrian University, Athens, Greece
  • MA, University of Florida, USA
  • PhD, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA

Theodora Dragostinova studies transnational and global processes in modern Europe, with an emphasis on eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Bulgaria. She is interested in how geopolitics, nationalism, war, shifting borders, and migration dynamics shape the choices of states, communities, and ordinary people. She examines the place of small states and marginal actors in important global developments, from war, displacement, and captivity to Cold War politics to cultural interactions across continents. She writes history that considers larger structures, local dynamics, and human agency.

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Professor Dragostinova is the author of Between Two Motherlands: Nationality and Emigration among the Greeks of Bulgaria, 1900-1949 (Cornell University Press, 2011). Focusing on the Greek minority in Bulgaria, the work illuminates the complex choices of people in the Balkans as the Ottoman Empire came to an end, nation-states fought for territories and populations, borders constantly shifted, and citizens sought to find their place in the new world order. 

The book was shortlisted for the Joseph Rothschild Prize in Nationalism and Ethnic Studies of the Association for the Study of Nationalities; and the Edmund Keeley Book Prize of the Modern Greek Studies Association. The book was awarded the Past President Bronze Award from the Association for Borderlands Studies.


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Expanding her work on nationalism, Professor Dragostinova co-edited, with Yana Hashamova, the volume Beyond Mosque, Church, and State: Alternative Narratives of the Nation in the Balkans (Central European University Press, 2016).

Bringing together interdisciplinary methodologies from history, cultural linguistics, film studies, ethnomusicology, and political science, the contributors to this volume highlight the viability of non-national and anti-national alternatives in the Balkans, refuting the alleged role of the region as a constant source of national(ist) conflicts and tensions. 





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Professor Dragostinova's second book, The Cold War from the Margins: A Small Socialist State on the Global Cultural Scene, was published by Cornell University Press in 2021. Based on research in Bulgaria, Hungary, Great Britain, Austria, Germany, France, and the United States, this book engages the global Cold War through the experiences of a small state, Bulgaria, and its cultural engagements with a variety of actors in the Balkans, the West, and the Third World.

The book received an Honorable Mention for The Heldt Prize for best book by a woman-identifying scholar in any area of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, awarded by the Association of Women in Slavic Studies. 

To learn more about The Cold War from the Margins, read the H-Diplo Roundtable on the book. You may also listen to Professor Dragostinova's interviews for the SRB Podcast and The New Books Network


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In 2023, she co-edited Re-Imagining the Balkans. How to Think and Teach a Region, a volume drawing inspiration from the work of Professor Maria Todorova and celebrating her contributions to the field of Balkan studies with 29 chapters spanning multiple scholarly disciplines, methodologies, time periods, and geographies. The contributions include new research on historical legacies, (geo)politics, generations, memory, and cultural transfers, fresh methodological and historiographical interventions, and novel pedagogical insights.




In the last five years, Professor Dragostinova has initiated and advanced crossdisciplinary conversations at Ohio State and beyond. In 2018-2020, she served as a Faculty Fellow of the Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme where she led the Migration, Mobility, and Immobility project. This work brought together researchers, creators, community members, and students to learn about and seek solutions to one of the most pressing issues humanity faces today. 

In 2022-2024, Professor Dragostinova serves as a Research & Programming Leader for the research cluster Centering the Global Periphery of the Mershon Center for International Security Studies. Focusing on marginalized regions, actors, and research methodologies, this work promotes new, innovative voices on how to study the global order from the margins. 

Professor Dragostinova's teaching reflects her varied research interests: from surveys of Modern Europe to advanced courses on Eastern Europe or the Cold War to seminars on comparative state- and nation-building, global mobility and migration, and historiographies of race, ethnicity, and nation. Her most recent class offerings include "People on the Move: Migration in Modern Europe," "Europe Since 1945: From the Iron Curtain to Fortress Europe," and "Europe Since 1989: Multiple Europes after the Cold War." 

A native of Bulgaria, Professor Dragostinova completed a B.A. in History and Archaeology at the University of Athens, Greece; a M.A. in History at the University of Florida; and a PhD in History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She works with sources in English, Bulgarian, Greek, Russian, and French. 

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