Sheila Fitzpatrick: American historian (1941-) | Biography, Bibliography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Sheila Fitzpatrick
American historian

Sheila Fitzpatrick

Sheila Fitzpatrick
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American historian
Is Historian Educator
From United States of America
Field Academia Social science
Gender female
Birth 4 June 1941, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Age 82 years
Star sign Gemini
The details (from wikipedia)


Sheila Fitzpatrick (born June 4, 1941) is an Australian historian. She is a Professor at the University of Sydney with her primary speciality being the history of modern Russia. Prior to this she taught Soviet History at the University of Chicago.


Sheila Fitzpatrick attended the University of Melbourne (BA, 1961) and received her doctorate from St Antony's College, Oxford (1969) with a thesis entitled The Commissariat of Education under Lunacharsky (1917-1921). She was a Research Fellow at the London School of Slavonic and East European Studies, 1969–72.

Fitzpatrick is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Australian Academy of the Humanities. She is a past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies. In 2002, she received an award from the Mellon Foundation for her academic work. From September 1996 to December 2006, Fitzpatrick was co-editor of The Journal of Modern History with John W. Boyer and Jan E. Goldstein.

Sheila Fitzpatrick spent 50 years living outside Australia. This included periods in the UK, the cold war era Soviet Union and finally 20 years in the USA. Fitzpatrick moved back to Australia in 2012.

Fitzpatrick is the daughter of Australian author Brian Fitzpatrick. She won the 2012 Magarey Medal for her memoir, My Father’s Daughter: Memories of an Australian Childhood. In addition to her research, she plays the violin in orchestras and chamber music groups.


Fitzpatrick's research focuses on the social and cultural history of the Stalinist period, particularly on aspects of social identity and daily life. She is currently concentrating on the social and cultural changes in Soviet Russia of the 1950s and 1960s.

In her early work, Sheila Fitzpatrick focused on the theme of social mobility, suggesting that the opportunity for the working class to rise socially and as a new elite had been instrumental in legitimizing the regime during the Stalinist period. Despite its brutality, Stalinism as a political culture would have achieved the goals of the democratic revolution. The center of attention was always focused on the victims of the purges rather than its beneficiaries, noted the historian. Yet as a consequence of the "Great Purge", thousands of workers and communists who had access to the technical colleges during the first five-year plan received promotions to positions in industry, government and the leadership of the Communist Party.

According to Fitzpatrick, the "cultural revolution" of the late 1920 and the purges which shook the scientific, literary, artistic and the industrial communities is explained in part by a class struggle against executives and intellectual bourgeois. The men who rose in the 1930s played an active role to get rid of former leaders who blocked their own promotion, and the "Great Turn" found its origins in initiatives from the bottom rather than the decisions of the summit. In this vision, Stalinist policy based on social forces and offered a response to popular radicalism, which allowed the existence of a partial consensus between the regime and society in the 1930s.

Historiographic debates

Fitzpatrick was the leader of the second generation of "revisionist historians". She was the first to call the group of historians working on Soviet History in the 1980s "a new cohort of [revisionist] historians".

Fitzpatrick called for a social history that did not address political issues, in other words that adhered strictly to a "from below" viewpoint. This was justified by the idea that the university had been strongly conditioned to see everything through the prism of the state: "the social processes unrelated to the intervention of the state is virtually absent from the literature." Fitzpatrick did not deny that the state's role in social change of the 1930s was huge. However, she defended the practice of social history "without politics". Most young "revisionists" did not want to separate the social history of the USSR from the evolution of the political system.

Fitzpatrick explained in the 1980s, when the "totalitarian model" was still widely used, "it was very useful to show that the model had an inherent bias and it did not explain everything about Soviet society. Now, whereas a new generation of academics considers sometimes as self evident that the totalitarian model was completely erroneous and harmful, it is perhaps more useful to show than there were certain things about the Soviet company that it explained very well."

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