Paula Michaels

Assoc Professor

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

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

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1996 …2024

Research activity per year

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; Bloomsbury Academic, 2021). 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 Internationalism and the Global Cold War examines the role of Soviet medical cadres as tools of soft power 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.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research area keywords

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

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or