Webcast Recap

Greg Castillo, Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley will discuss his latest book entitled Cold War on the Home Front: The Soft Power of Midcentury Design, which is an in-depth history of how domestic goods and environments were exploited on both sides of the Iron Curtain to promote either capitalism or socialism. Cold War on the Home Front reveals the tactics used by U.S. government agencies to seduce citizens of the Soviet bloc with state-of-the-art consumer goods, and the retaliatory tactics mobilized by Party authorities. Using a mosaic of sources ranging from recently declassified government documents to homemaking journals and popular fiction, Cold War on the Home Front contributes perspective on cultural politics and midcentury modernism at the dawn of the cold war.

Joining Castillo on the panel will be Blair A. Ruble, Director, Kennan Institute, Wilson Center.

Christian Ostermann, director of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program, will chair the event.

Greg Castillo is an associate professor at the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkley, and a research associate at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia. Castillo has received grants and fellowships from the German Fulbright Fund, the Getty Research Institute, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and the Ford Foundation. Castillo's publications on Cold War design politics and practices include a monograph, Cold War on the Home Front: The Soft Power of Midcentury Design, and essays in Imagining the West in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, Cold War Modern: Art and Design in a Divided World, 1945-1975, and The Politics of the Kitchen in the Cold War.

Blair A. Ruble is currently director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center, where he also serves as program director for Comparative Urban Studies. Ruble received his MA and PhD degrees in Political Science from the University of Toronto, and an AB degree with Highest Honors in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has edited more than a dozen volumes, and is the author of six monographic studies. His book-length works include a trilogy examining the fate of Russian provincial cities during the twentieth century: Leningrad. Shaping a Soviet City (1990); Money Sings! The Changing Politics of Urban Space in Post-Soviet Yaroslavl (1995); and Second Metropolis: Pragmatic Pluralism in Gilded Age Chicago, Silver Age Moscow, and Meiji Osaka (2001) as well as Creating Diversity Capital (2005) examining the changes in such cities as Montreal, Washington, D.C., and Kyiv brought about by the recent arrival of large transnational communities. His most recent monograph – Washington's U Street: A Biography – appeared in November 2010. A native of New York, Dr. Ruble worked previously at the Social Science Research Council in New York City (1985-1989) and the National Council for Soviet and East European Research (1982-1985).


  • Blair A. Ruble

    Vice President for Programs; Director, Urban Sustainability Laboratory; and Senior Advisor, Kennan Institute
  • Christian F. Ostermann

    Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Greg Castillo

    Short-Term Grant