Ioana Macrea-Toma

Visiting Professor

Contact information

Arany Janos u. 32
36 1 327 2338

I joined Open Society Archives in 2012 as a Junior Research Fellow. To date, I have been co-teaching courses and seminars with István Rév on theoretical and methodological issues related to historiography both generally and also applied to the history of the Cold War. I am interested in the study of knowledge formation through the perspective of archival and media theories, the history of science, philosophy of history and history of intellectuals.

I am an interdisciplinary scholar trained in philology, comparative literature and history. My scholarly trajectory is perhaps typical of a literary historian in search of interpretive paradigms beyond the formal and context-free approaches within regional literary studies. In my dissertation about the literary field in Romania under communism, I made a case for understanding political and literary choices as a matter of professional ethos, transnational interactions and position-taking within a set of possible discursive frames. Currently I am broadening these insights in order to write a book on the interplay of perceptions about the Other through the perspective of mutually observing cognitive systems during the Cold War (Radio Free Europe, Secret Police, intellectuals within the literary field and listeners to the radio). I also coordinated a journal issue on go-betweens, seen as trans-institutional and trans-disciplinary knowledge brokers within communism.

At OSA I aim to embed my research interests in the Cold War and knowledge systems within OSA's ongoing archival activities and to participate in the development of an Archival Laboratory. I see research, curatorial activity and teaching as complementary parts within an ongoing project (both personal and institutional) of mapping history through the cognitive lenses of the archives. I am actively involved in archival projects while reflecting on their very epistemic assumptions. I do research and teach about genealogies of information-gathering practices from the early 50s up to the current digital age. My interest in the relationship between forms, methods and content of knowledge make me also draw on perspectives from artistic research and art history. I integrate film screenings and exhibitions with the design of seminars as both objects of cultural history and heuristic tools in thinking about methodologies and various historical perspectives. In doing so, my research on cultural fields and my current focus on knowledge theories come together once again.

Fellowship and Awards

  • 2011-2012         EURIAS Fellowship, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
  • 2011                    Center for Advanced Studies Fellowship, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • 2010                   Fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for  Scholars, Washington, D.C.
  • 2009-2010         New Europe College Fellowship, Bucharest
  • 2008-2009         Central European University Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship


Major publications:


  • Privilighentia. Instituţii literare în comunismul românesc [Privilighentsia. Literary Institutions under Communism in Romania], Cluj-Napoca: Casa Cărţii de Ştiinţă, 2010.

Articles and book chapters (selection):

  • “More than “Soul Catchers:” Understanding Eastern Europe during the Cold War through the audience and opinion surveys of Radio Free Europe,” forthcoming in the Journal of Cold War Studies
  • “Meta-politics: Recommitting Literature in the Populist Aftermath,” in Christian Moraru, Andrei Terian, Alexandru Matei (eds.), Theory in the “Post” Era: A Vocabulary for the Twenty-First-Century Conceptual Commons (London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2022), pp. 91-107.
  • “The Eyes of Radio Free Europe: Regimes of Visibility in the Cold War Archives in East Central Europe” (thematic issue: Go Betweens: Family Resemblances of Collaboration), Volume 44, No.1, 2017, pp. 99-128.
  • “The Archive as Blueprint. Information in Mass Dictatorships,” in Jie-Hyun Lim & Paul Corner (eds.), Handbook of Mass Dictatorship (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), pp. 141-155.
  • “The Intricacies of a (Cold) War of Ideas. Radio Free Europe from Above and from Below,” in A. Bischof & Z. Juergens (eds.), Voices of Freedom -Western Influences (Muenchen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015), pp. 109-147.


• Ph.D. in Comparative Literature Department, Université d’Artois (France), Babeş-Bolyai University (Cluj-Napoca)
• M.A. in History, Central European University, Budapest
• M.A. in Comparative Literature, Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca

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