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Cathleen M. Giustino

Cathleen M. Giustino



Cathleen M. Giustino

Office Hours

By Appointment


PhD, University of Chicago

BA, Grinnell College

About Me

Cathleen (Cate) Giustino is a 2017 Carnegie Fellow and an Auburn University Creative Research Scholar. She earned her PhD in Modern Central European history from the University of Chicago and her BA in history and Germanistik from Grinnell College. She joined Auburn’s faculty in 1997.

Giustino researches the history of the politics of culture in modern Central and Eastern Europe. She has worked extensively on the history of urban planning and historic preservation in Czechoslovakia, particularly in Prague and northern Bohemia; the seizure of cultural property from groups targeted for annihilation, expulsion and social leveling during and after the Second World War; and, most recently, the history of creativity in socialist Czechoslovakia, which she is examining through the lens of East bloc theories about and experiences of childhood.

She teaches courses on the history of Germany, Eastern Europe and Russia during the modern period, especially the 20th-century, giving special attention to methodology for the study of culture, power and state-society relations. Her teaching awards include the College of Liberal Arts Award for Excellence in the Teaching of the Humanities, the Panhellenic Outstanding Professor Award and the Favorite Educator Award from the Mortar Board National Senior Honorary.

She is the author of Tearing Down Prague's Jewish Town: Ghetto Clearance and the Legacy of Middle-Class Ethnic Politics around 1900, a study of the local politics of architecture and urban design in Prague before World War I, when the city’s residents included a culturally rich mix of Czechs, Germans and Jews. She co-edited, along with Catherine Plum and Alexander Vari, Socialist Escapes: Breaks from Ideology and the Everyday in Eastern Europe, 1945-1989, a volume exploring Communist Party efforts to engineer society through leisure and consumption and revising older theories about the operation of power during the Cold War.

Among Giustino’s articles treating the seizure of cultural property during and after World War II are “Julia and Her Things: Restitution, Racism, and Connections in and beyond the Sudetenland,” Bohemia: Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Kultur der böhmischen Länder, 59, nr 1 (2019): 3-49; and “Pretty Things, Ugly Histories: Decorating with Persecuted People’s Property in Central Bohemia, 1938-1958,” in The Things They Carried: War, Mobility and Material Culture, co-edited by Leora Auslander and Tara Zahra.

Her articles on Prague include “The Ghetto and the Castle: Modern Urban Design and Knowledge Transfer in Historic Prague before and after 1918,” ed. Eszter Gantner, Heidi Hein-Kircher and Oliver Hochadel, Interurban Knowledge Exchange: Emerging Cities in Southern and Eastern Europe, 1870-1950; and "Municipal Activism in Late-Nineteenth-Century Prague: The House Numbered 207-V and Ghetto Clearance," Austrian History Yearbook.

For her articles on the politics of exhibition and display see "Rodin in Prague: Modern Art, Cultural Diplomacy and National Display" which appeared in Slavic Review; and "Socialist Industrial Design and the Czechoslovak Pavilion at EXPO '58" published in the Journal of Contemporary History.

Her articles related to the history of creativity through the lens of childhood are “Simply Child’s Play? Toys, Ideology and the Avant-Garde in Socialist Czechoslovakia before 1968,” ed. Megan Brandow-Faller, Childhood by Design: Toys and the Material Culture of Childhood, 1700-Present ; and “Kindergarten Lessons from the East Bloc: Play and Mimesis in the Soviet Union and Socialist Czechoslovakia,” forthcoming in German translation in Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung.

Giustino has held research awards from the Carnegie Foundation, Fulbright, the American Council of Learned Societies, the International Research Exchange Board, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the American Philosophical Society, and the TEMA Erasmus Mundus European Master’s Programme, for which she twice served as a visiting professor at the Charles University in Prague.

She is an editor for the Central European Yearbook, a digital humanities project with the Center of Austrian Studies at the University of Minnesota and a member of the Executive Board for HABSBURG, the H-Net list dedicated to the history of the Habsburg Monarchy and its successor states. She serves on the Academic Council of Urban Studies (Urbanní studium), a publication series under the auspices of the Charles University in Prague.

During the 2020-21 academic year she will deliver papers and comments at the annual conferences of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) and the German Studies Association (GSA). She is accepted into the workshop “Confronting Difficult Issues around Religion and the Holocaust" at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She is invited to give a keynote address at an international conference devoted to the history of historic preservation sponsored by the National Heritage Institute and the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague.

Research Interests

Modern Germany, Eastern Europe, 20th-century Europe



  • Socialist Escapes: Breaks from Ideology and Everyday Life in Eastern Europe, 1945-1989 (Berghahn Books, 2013).
  • Tearing Down Prague's Jewish Town: Ghetto Clearance and the Legacy of Middle-Class Ethnic Politics around 1900 (East European Monographs, 2004).