Carnegie Mellon University

Emanuela Grama

Emanuela Grama

Associate Professor

  • Baker Hall 238-A
  • 412-268-3285


My first book, Socialist Heritage: The Politics of Past and Place in Romania (Indiana University Press, 2019) explores the fraught relationship between heritage-making and statecraft. Focusing on Romania from 1945 to 2016, I analyze the socialist state’s attempt to create its own heritage, as well as the legacy of that project. Contrary to arguments that the socialist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe aimed to erase the pre-war history of the socialist cities, I show that the communist state in Romania sought to exploit the past for its own benefit.

The book traces the transformation of a central district of Bucharest, the Old Town, from a socially and ethnically diverse place in the early 20th century, into an epitome of national history under socialism, and then, starting in the 2000s, into the historic center of a European capital. Under socialism, politicians and professionals used the district’s historic buildings, especially the ruins of a medieval palace that archeologists discovered in the 1950s, to emphasize the city’s Romanian past and erase its ethnically diverse history. Since the collapse of socialism, the cultural and economic value of the Old Town has become highly contested. Bucharest’s middle class has regarded the district as a site of tempting transgressions. Its poor residents have decried their semi-decrepit homes, while entrepreneurs and politicians have viewed it as a source of easy money.

Such arguments point to negotiations about the meanings of class, political participation, and ethnic and economic belonging in postsocialist Romania—a country with a rising social polarization, and whose citizens have lost their trust in the government. An archival and ethnographic research of the changing meanings of the Old Town reveals the fundamentally dual nature of heritage: behind every search for the essence of an idealized past lie strategies of differentiation that can lead to further marginalization and exclusion.

My second book manuscript in progress draws on my research interest in the relationship between politics and materiality to inquire into the Europeanization of ethnicity through memory-work and property restitution in Transylvania.


Ph.D.: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2010


Books & Articles

  • Socialist Heritage: History, Place, and Belonging in 20th century Romania(Indiana University Press, 2019)
  • Arbiters of Value: The Nationalization of Art and the Politics of Expertise in Early Socialist Romania,” East European Politics & Societies and Cultures, vol. 33, issue 3 (2019): 656-676.
  • “Letters, Plans, and Walls: Architects, Archeologists, and Institutional Politics in Bucharest of the 1960s.” Anthropology of East Europe Review 57, 2 (2009): 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 Politics5, 2 (2006): 38-64
  • “Networking Texts and Persons: Politics of Plagiarism in Postsocialist Romania.” Romanian Journal of Society and Politics4, 2 (2004): 148-173

Working Papers

  • “Impenetrable Plans and Porous Expertise: Building a Socialist Bucharest, Reconstructing Its Past (1958-1968).” EUI Working Papers, Max Weber Programme (2012)

Book Reviews

  • Virág Molnár. Building the State. Architecture, Politics and State Formation in Post-War Central Europe. London & New York: Routledge, 2013. In Europe-Asia Studies, 67:8, 1334-1336, 2015.
  • Narcis Tulbure, Money, Values and Change in Post-Socialist Romania. Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh, 2013. Commissioned by

Courses Taught

  • Global Studies Capstone Research Seminar
  • Introduction to Science and Technology Studies
  • Social and Political Change in 20th century Central and Eastern Europe
  • Politics of Science and Technology during the Cold War (Freshman Seminar)
  • The Politics and Culture of Memory
  • Introduction to Anthropology
  • “Unwanted”: Refugees, Stateless People, and International Migration
  • Methods and Theory in Historical Studies (Graduate Level)

Department Member Since: 2013