Cristina Florea

Assistant Professor


I am a historian of Central and Eastern Europe, interested in the interactions between German and Russian power (their competition for territory and influence) across this space, as well as the consequences these interactions have had for the people living in between. In my work, I explore questions such as the relationship between nationalism and empire, the importance of imperial legacies in modern European history, and the centrality of imperial competition to East European politics and societies. While I approach my field from a global and transnational perspective, I do not forsake the local but aim to show how small places can shed light on the relationship between great power politics and large global processes, and local politics and society.

I attempt to do so in my first book (in progress) Crossroads of Empire: Revolutions and Encounters at the Frontiers of Europe, which follows the small East European borderland of Bukovina over the course of two centuries, as it shifted from the Austrian Empire to Russia, Romania, the Soviet Union, and independent Ukraine. The book reflects on the power of place - or, in other words, the relationship between geopolitics, ideas, and everyday life - through the story of a small and distant territory caught in the whirlpool of great power politics. It shows how global transformations manifested themselves at a local level, how they were experienced by state officials and locals on the ground, and also how large processes - such as imperial competition, modernization, or the rise of 20th-century ideologies - developed local roots, such that they were seldom experienced merely as impositions from outside but much more often as developments internal to Bukovina.

I am also working on an intellectual biography of Joseph Roth, the Galician-born German-Jewish author of Radetzky March - one of the most memorable fictional accounts of the Habsburg Empire's afterlife in Central Europe. This book aims to explain the world that made Joseph Roth, a "walking paradox," possible. Through his biography, it explores the consequences of the sudden demise of an empire that had lasted more than half a millennium for people whose lives had been deeply intertwined with it.

I teach courses on East European and Soviet history; World War II and interwar Europe. 

Research Focus

  • Central and Eastern Europe; Habsburg Empire and successor states 
  • Soviet Union 
  • Empires and Nationalisms 
  • Global, Comparative, and Transnational 
  • Cultural and Intellectual history 


Peer-reviewed Articles

"Frontiers of Civilization in the Age of Mass Migration from Eastern Europe," Past and Present, 21 February 2022.

"New Perspectives in German Studies: A View From the Margins," New German Critique, November 2023. 

Book Reviews and Review Essays

Review of Patrice Dabrowski, The Carpathians: Discovering the Highlands of Poland and Ukraine (Cornell University Press, 2021), History: Reviews of New Books, 50(5), pp.83-84.  

Review of Astrid Eckert, West Germany and the Iron Curtain: Environment, Economy, and Culture in the Borderlands (OUP, 2019), H-Borderlands.

"Hidden Metropolis: Modernization and Urban Culture in Eastern Europe," Journal of Urban History, January 2020. 

Review of Helga Mitterbauer and Carrie Smith-Prei, eds. Crossing Central Europe: Continuities and Transformations, 1900 and 2000 (University of Toronto Press, 2017), Austrian History Yearbook, April 2019.

Public Writing

"Ukraine's Long Self-Determination," New York Review of Books, December 7, 2022. 

“The Crisis in Ukraine Has Disturbing Echoes of the 1930s,” TIME, February 28, 2022.

“Putin Knows That Controlling History Is the Key to Total Power,” CNN Opinion, April 4, 2022.

“Putin’s Perilous Imperial Dream: Why Empires and Nativism Don’t Mix,” Foreign Affairs, May 10, 2022.

In the news