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Theodora Dragostinova


Theodora Dragostinova




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

Areas of Expertise

  • Modern European History
  • East European History/Balkan 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 is a historian of modern Europe whose research focuses geographically on Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Bulgaria and thematically on comparative nationalism, migration and mobility, and the global Cold War. 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. It was the winner of the John D. Bell Memorial Book Prize from the Bulgarian Studies Association. 

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.





Currently, Professor Dragostinova is working on missing children and divided families in the borderlands of Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey, tentatively entitled “Spoils of War: The Repatriation of Children in the post-1918 Balkans.”

Professor Dragostinova has advanced multiple crossdisciplinary collaborations at Ohio State and beyond. In 2016-2018, she was a team member of The Global Mobility Project, a pilot project of the Humanities & Arts Discovery Theme. In 2018-2020, she served as a Faculty Fellow for the Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme and led the Migration, Mobility, and Immobility project. In 2022-2024, she served as a Co-PI for the research cluster Centering the Global Periphery of the Mershon Center for International Security Studies

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." 

Professor Dragostinova is the proud recipient of three teaching awards: the Paul W. Brown Excellence in Teaching Award and the Ronald and Deborah Ratner Distinguished Teaching Award from the College of Arts & Sciences; and the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest teaching recognition at Ohio State. 

Nationally, in 2020-2023 Professor Dragostinova served as a Member-at-Large (elected) of the Board of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES). She currently serves as an Associate Review Editor for the American Historical Review as well as on the editorial board of Slavic Review



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