Paula Michaels

Assoc Professor


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

Paula Michaels’ work bridges the histories of Eastern and Western Europe, integrating the USSR into a pan-European and global narrative through the study of social and cultural history. More recently her research has reached into the histories of North America and Australia.

Michaels is especially interested in the ways that medicine is mobilised to further political and social objectives. She is currently pursuing two major projects.

  • Gender and Trauma since 1900 (co-edited with Christina Twomey, Monash University; under contract, Bloomsbury Press). Do different cultures experience trauma differently? Can we discern commonalities across time and space, despite changing clinical and vernacular vocabularies? Drawing together case studies from around the globe, this volume puts gender at the centre of analysis in understanding the evolution of ideas and practices across the 20th century and beyond of what we today term Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The history of PTSD is typically written as a straight line from shell shock in World War I, through war neurosis in World War II, to post-Vietnam syndrome. Entering the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual’s third edition in 1980, PTSD codified our contemporary understanding of a distinct cluster of symptoms that emerge in the wake of a profoundly distressing situation. Authored by scholars from Australia, the US, and UK, the contributions to this volume chronicle fluctating understandings of the psychological, legal, political, and social implications of emotional distress by men and women, on and off the battlefield.

  • Soviet Medical Diplomacy and the Global Cold War examines the role of Soviet medical cadres as tools of soft diplomacy and citizen diplomacy from the opening of extensive exchange agreements in the late 1950s through the collapse of the USSR in 1991. This study plaits the stories of three parallel initiatives: (1) sponsoring of medical students from the developing world for education in the USSR; (2) deploying Soviet medical cadres to the Global South as a form of developmental aid; (3) promoting peace through antinuclear activism. By examining the Soviet Union's pathbreaking use of medical diplomacy, this project contributes to our understanding of Soviet foreign policy strategies and broadens our conceptualisation of medical and health diplomacy.

Supervision interests

Michaels welcomes inquires from potential honours and postgraduate students in the history of medicine, gender history, and Russian, East European, and Eurasian history.

Research area keywords

  • Gender
  • Childbirth
  • Trauma
  • Modern Europe
  • Imperial history
  • Russia/USSR
  • Kazakhstan/Central Asia

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.


Research Output

Review of Coming Home: How Midwives Changed Birth, by Wendy Kline.

Michaels, P. A., 2020, In : Bulletin of the History of Medicine. 94, 1, p. 172-174 3 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalShort ReviewOtherpeer-review

Open Access

Sheila Fitzpatrick on Displaced Lives: MIschka's War: A European Odyssey of the 1940s, 2017

Michaels, P. A., Nov 2019, In : History Australia. 16, 3, 2 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalShort ReviewOther

Violence and Trauma in Australian Birth

Michaels, P. A., Sutton, E. A. & Highet, N., 2019, Australian Motherhood: Historical and Sociological Perspectives. Pascoe, C. & Bueskens, P. (eds.). Cham Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 239-25 17 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

Childbirth and trauma, 1940s to 1980s

Michaels, P. A., Jan 2018, In : Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. 73, 1, p. 52-72 21 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

'One of the most vulnerable times in your life': expectations and emotional experiences of support in the early postnatal period

Johnston-Ataata, K., Kokanovic, R. & Michaels, P. A., 21 Aug 2018, Paths to Parenthood: Emotions on the Journey through Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Early Parenthood. Kokanovic, R., Michaels, P. A. & Johnston-Ataata, K. (eds.). 1st ed. Gateway East Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 187-214 28 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


NEH Fellowship Program Peer Review Panel: European History

Paula Michaels (Member)


Activity: External Academic EngagementPeer review panel or committee

Bloomsbury Academic (Publisher)

Paula Michaels (Peer reviewer)


Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review responsibility

External Reviewer

Paula Michaels (Reviewer)


Activity: External Academic EngagementGrant review responsibilities

ARC Assessor

Paula Michaels (Reviewer)


Activity: External Academic EngagementGrant review responsibilities

Frances Richardson Keller-Sierra Prize

Paula Michaels (Chair/ Co-Chair)


Activity: External Academic EngagementProfessional association or peak discipline body

Press / Media

The Soviet Origins of the Lamaze Method

Paula Michaels


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Profile/Interview

Explainer: Putin

Paula Michaels


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Expert Comment

The Women of the Revolution, Life Matters, Radio National

Paula Michaels


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities

On Russia, Evenings, ABC Radio-Melbourne

Paula Michaels


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities

What Not to Expect When Expecting

Paula Michaels


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Research