Kyrill Kunakhovich

Assistant Professor

434 924 6415

Nau Hall 252
Office Hours: T/Th 2:00-3:00 pm and by appointment

Field & Specialties

Modern Europe
Cultural History
Cold War


Ph.D. Princeton University, 2013

M.A. Princeton University, 2009

B.A. Yale University, 2005


“Reconstruction as Revolution: Cultural Life in Post-WWII Kraków and Leipzig.” East European Politics and Societies 30:3 (August 2016), 475-495.

“The Red Director: Karl Kayser and the Evolution of GDR Theater.” Forthcoming in The German Studies Review 40:1 (February 2017).

“Postwar Cultures: Art and Communism in Kraków and Leipzig.” Pamięć i Śprawiedliwość [Poland] 25 (1/2015): 163-184.

“Ties that Bind, Ties that Divide: Second World Cultural Exchange at the Grassroots.” In Patryk Babiracki and Austin Jersild (eds.), Exploring the Second World: Socialist Internationalism in the Cold War. London: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming.

“The Cultural Cold War on the Home Front: The Political Role of Theaters in Communist Kraków and Leipzig.” In Christopher Balme and Berenika Szymanski (eds.), Theatre, Globalization and the Cold War. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

“Cinema Cultures of Integration: Film Distribution and Exhibition in the GDR and Czechoslovakia from the Perspective of Two Local Cases, 1945-1960.” With Pavel Skopal. In Lars Karl and Pavel Skopal (eds.), Film Industry and Cultural Policy in GDR and Czechoslovakia, 1945-1960. New York: Berghahn Books, 2015.

Current Research

I am an historian of modern Europe, with a particular focus on central and eastern Europe in the twentieth century. My current book project, entitled Culture for the People: Art and Politics in Communist Poland and East Germany, considers how arts and culture helped to make, and then unmake, the Soviet Bloc. Focusing on two cities, Kraków in Poland and Leipzig in the GDR, it examines art's role in communist politics as well as communism's impact on the arts. I argue that communist officials turned to art in order to reconcile two contradictory objectives: enacting social transformation and preserving social peace. In pursuing both goals at the same time, they gave rise to a distinctive Soviet Bloc culture whose traces endure to this day. 


I am also preparing two future projects. The first, a transnational history of the variety show, will explore the rise of mass politics in early twentieth-century Europe. The second will consider how UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, has developed and popularized global standards for culture.

Awards & Honors

Mellon Faculty Fellowship in Global Studies, The College of William and Mary. August 2014-August 2016.

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University. September 2013-July 2014.

Dissertation Fellowship in East European Studies, American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). September 2012-August 2013.

Charlotte Elizabeth Procter Honorific Fellowship, Princeton University. September 2011-August 2012.

Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) Research Grant, Leipzig University, Germany. March-July 2011.

Thesaurus Poloniae Fellowship, International Culture Center, Kraków, Poland. September-November 2010.

Wolfgang Leonhard Prize in Russian and East European Studies, Yale University, May 2005.

Courses Taught

HIEU 1502, "The Berlin Wall: Lies and Spies in a Cold War City"

HIEU 2559, "Nationalism in Europe: From the UK to Ukraine"

HIEU 3559, "The Fall of Communism: How the Soviet Union Lost the Cold War"

HIEU 4502, "Cold War Europe: One Continent Between Two Superpowers"

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
Department Contacts