Teodor Shanin, a renowned scholar and president of the Moscow School for the Social and Economic Sciences — “Shaninka” — died on Tuesday in Moscow.
Shanin, 89, was credited as the originator of peasant studies, a field which combines sociology, economics, history, and other academic disciplines to form a comprehensive understanding of modern peasant lives.
Born in Vilnius (then Poland) in 1930, Shanin was exiled to Siberia together with his mother in 1941 following the arrest of his father. After being granted amnesty, his educational pursuits would take him to Poland, France, Palestine, and the United Kingdom, where he completed a Ph.D. in 1970 at the University of Birmingham. He would spend the next two decades as a professor and fellow at various universities.
During the 1990s, he became involved in an effort to reform Russian higher education, culminating in the 1995 formation of the Moscow School for the Social and Economic Sciences, of which he was named the first rector. At the time of his death, Shanin was president of the school, and was still active in sociological and historical research.
Shanin will be remembered for his contributions to the field of historical sociology, his efforts as an educator, and his nuanced approach to interdisciplinary research.