Teodor Shanin is the founder of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. He held the position of School Rector from 1995 to 2007. From 2007 through 2020 he held the post of President of the School. The School is commonly called “Shanika” to honor the name of its founder.
He was born on October 29, 1930 in Vil’no, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania)
In 1941 he and his mother were deported to Siberia (his father was sent to a detention camp in the Sverdlovsk region)
In 1942-46, following the general amnesty of Polish citizens he moved to Samarkand in Uzbekistan
In 1946-7 he resided in Lodz, Poland
In 1948 he moved to Israel to volunteer in the War of Independence (he served in the 6th commando battalion in Palmach)
In 1949-51 he entered the School of Social Work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
In 1952-64 he started his career as a social worker (young criminals, Be'er Ya'akov Mental Health Centre), MALBEN (Organization for the Care of Handicapped Immigrants, Ministry of Labor Rehabilitation Center)
In 1959-64 he both worked and resumed his studies at the Faculty of Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
In 1964-6 he was writing his doctoral thesis at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
In 1966-71 he worked as a lecturer at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
In 1969 he received his Doctoral Diploma at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
In 1970 he became a UK resident
In 1971-3 he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Haifa in Israel
In 1973-4 he became a member of St. Antony's College, Oxford University, United Kingdom
In 1974-88 he was a Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom
In 1988-92 – while working at the University of Manchester, he took the lead of a large-scale agricultural research program in Russia
He was appointed a Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences
In 1995-2007 he established and headed the MSSES, autonomous non-profit educational organization
In 2002 he was granted the Order of the British Empire for Outstanding Achievements in Higher Education Development in Russia
In 2007-2020 he held the post of President of the MSSES
He passed away on February 4, 2020.
Academic Degrees and Titles
1951 Diploma of professional social worker, the School of Social Work, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
1963 BA (Sociology/Economics), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
1969 PhD (Sociology), the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
1974 Professor of Sociology, the University of Manchester
1975 MS in Social studies, the University of Manchester
1988 Honorary Member of the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences
2002 Honoured Worker of Higher Education of the Russian Federation Award
2002 Order of the British Empire for Outstanding Achievements in Higher Education Development in Russia
2008 Alexander Dallin’s award, the European University at Saint Petersburg
2008 The Honorary Doctor of Law, the University of Toronto
1949-51 Student at the School of Social Work
1952-5 Social worker, youth outreach, Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services
1955-60 Social worker, Be'er Ya'akov Mental Health Centre, Israel
1960-1 MALBEN, Rehabilitation Department, Israel
1962 - 64 Director of the Rehabilitation Centre, Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, Petah-Tikva, Israel
Resuming Academic Studies
1959-63 Part-time Department, Faculty of Sociology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
1965-68 Lecturer of Sociology, the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
1968-70 Lecturer, Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
1971-3 Associate Professor, the University of Haifa, Israel
1973-4 Research activities, St. Antony's College, Oxford University, United Kingdom
1974-1999 Professor of Sociology, the University of Manchester, United Kingdom
1976-1987 Dean of the Faculty of Sociology, the University of Manchester, United Kingdom
1988-92 While working at the University of Manchester, he took the lead of the Human Sciences Transformation Program at the Foundation for Cultural Initiative, Moscow, Russia
1992-4 Co-President of the InterTsentr Interdisciplinary Academic Centre jointly with Tatiana Zaslavskaya, Academician, Moscow, Russia
1995-2007 Rector of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, Moscow, Russia
2007-2020 President of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, Moscow, Russia Россия
1971 Professor, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
1973-4 Senior Researcher, St. Antony's College, Oxford University, United Kingdom
1976-9 Field agricultural researches in Iran
1977 Lecture tour to Lund University, Sweden
1978-89 Cultural Exchange Program: conducting research work in the USSR including a stay in Moscow
1977, 1979, 1981 Research conducted in rural areas in India
1978-81 Continuation of the Cultural Exchange Program including a stay in Moscow
1979-80 4 months of research at Columbia University, New York, USA
1983-84 Research, Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C., USA
1988 Lecture tour to Brazil, the British Council and National Museum in Rio de Janeiro
1989 Visiting China to support the Cultural Exchange Program to Study Agricultural Reforms
1990-91 Commoner, one-year scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, United Kingdom
1990-94 Research grant to conduct field studies in the rural areas of Russia, ESRC
Books1971 Peasants and Peasant Societies.(Penguin, 1971). Translation into Spanish, Persian, Malasian. (Blackwells/Penguin, 1987).
1972 The Awkward Class: Political Sociology of Peasantry in a Developing Society: Russia 1910-1925. (Clarendon Press, 1972).
1972 The Rules of the Game: Models in Contemporary Scholarly Thought. (Tavistock Publications, 1972).
1983 Introduction to Sociology of the Developing Societies (with Hamza Alavi). (Macmillan).
1984 Late Marx and the Russian Road: Marx and the Peripheries of Capitalism. (Routledge, GB. Monthly Review US).
1985 Russia as a 'Developing Society' (The Roots of Otherness, Vol 1.) (Macmillan Yale U.P.).
1986 Russia 1905-7: Revolution as a Moment of Truth (The Roots of Otherness, Vol 2). (Macmillan Yale U.P.).
1990 Defining Peasants. (Blackwell).
1992 The Great Unknown.
1994 Antonovshina (together with Viktor Danilov).
1999 The Informal Economy: Russia and the World (Logos, 1999)
2002 Reflexive Peasant Studies) (together with Viktor Danilov and Aleksander Nikulin) MSSES and ROSPEN, 2002
2005 Fathers and Sons: A Generational Story (with Yuri Levada), New Literary Review, 2005
2007 Nestor Makhno: Peasant Movement in Ukraine (Together with Viktor Danilov and Viktor Kondrashin) (Rosspen), 2006
Articles1966 Peasants as a Political Factor, Sociological Review, Vol. 14.
1967 Inheritance in Russian Peasantry, Discussion Papers of the University of Birmingham LC/C No. 3.
1968 Student Power in Developing Societies, Discussion Papers of the University of Birmingham LC/C No. 10 (with C. Dennis).
1970 Class and Revolution, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 1.
1971 Peasants: A Delineation of Concept and a Field of Study, European Journal of Sociology, Vol. 12.
1971 Socio-Economic Mobility and the Rural History of Russia, 1905-1930, Soviet Studies, Vol 22., 1905-1930/ (Reprinted in Cambridge Anthropology 1982).
1971 Co-operation and Collectivisation - The Case of Eastern Europe, in P Worsley ed. Two Blades of Grass: Rural Co-operatives in Agricultural Modernisation. (Manchester U.P.).
1972 Units of Sociological Analysis, Sociology, Vol. 6.No. 3.
1973 The Structure and Logic of Peasant Economy, Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 1, Nos. 1 and 2.
1975 The Price of Suspension: The Policy of Stages and the Historical Defeat of Moderate Zionism. U. Davis, A. Mack and N. Yuval-Davis. Israel and the Palestinians. (Ithaca Press).
1976 The Third Stage: Marxist Social Theory and the Origins of our Time, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 6, No. 3.
1976 Peasants and Social Development, ed. Khodadad Farmanfarmaian.The Social Sciences and Problems of Development. (Princeton U.P.).
1976 A World Without Rural Sociology: The Issue of Specificity and the Future of a Discipline. Sociologia Ruralis, Vol. 16, No.4
1977 The Sociology of 'Developing Societies': Problems of Teaching and Definition. (Together with Robin Cohen and Bernado Sorj). The Sociological Review, Vol. 25, No. 2
1977 The Peasant Connection: Social Background and Mental Health of Migrant Workers in Western Europe. (Together with Shulamit Ramon and Jackie Strimpel). Mental Health and Society, Vol. 4, Nos 5/6.
1978 The Peasants Are Coming: Migrants Who Labour, Peasants Who Travel and Marxists Who Write. Race and Class, Vol. 19, No. 3.
1980 The Conceptual Reappearance of Peasantry Within the Anglo-Saxon Social Sciences: 1960s and After. Ed. E. Gelner, Soviet and Western Anthropology. (Duckworth & Co, London).
1980 Measuring Peasant Capitalism, ed. E. J. Hobsbawm, etc. Peasants in History, (Oxford University Press, Calcutta).
1980 Defining Peasants: Conceptualisations and De-Conceptualisations, Peasant Studies, Vol. 8, No. 4. Also The Sociological Review, Vol. 30, No 3.
1981 Marx and the Russian Commune, Historical Workshop, No. 21.
1982 Class, State and Revolution: Substitutes and Realities, in H. Alavi and T. Shanin Introduction to Sociology of Developing Societies. (Macmillan).
1983 The Peasant Dream: Russia 1905-7 in R. Samuel, Culture Politics and Ideology. (Routledge).
1984 Late Marx: Gods and Craftsmen, in T. Shanin's Late Marx and the Russian Road. (Routledge).
1984 Marxism and the Vernacular Revolutionary Traditions, in T. Shanin's Late Marx and the Russian Road.
1986 Soviet Theories of Ethnicity: The Case of a Missing Term, New Left Review, No. 158.
1986 Chayanov's Message: Illuminations, Miscomprehensions and the Contemporary Development Theory, in A. V. Chayanov, The Theory of Peasant Economy. (Wisconsin U.P.).
1988 Peasantry and Capitalism: Kautsky's Agrarian Question in K. Kautsky's The Agrarian Question (with Hamza Alavi). (Zwan).
1988 Expolary Economies: A Political Economy of Margins, Journal of Historical Sociology, Vol 1, No 1.
1988 The Zionisms of Israel in H. Alavi and F. Halliday State and Ideology in the Middle East. (Macmillan).
1988 New Times and New Man in USSR, New Left Review, No. 168.
1988 Roads Which Lead to the Temple: Soviet Historian's Blinkers and Illuminations, Detente, No 11.
1989 The Ethnic Dimension: Theory and Policies in the Soviet Union, Comparative Studies in Sociology and History, Vol. 31, No. 3.
1989 Soviet Agriculture and Perestroika: Four Models, Sociologia Ruralis, Vol XXXIX, No 1, 1989.
1989 Orthodox Marxism and Lenin's Four and a Half Agrarian Programmes, in T Shanin's Defining Peasants. (Blackwells).
1989 The Agenda of Peasant Studies and the Perception of Parallel Realities, in T. Shanin's Defining Peasants. (Blackwells).
1989 Soviet Economic Crisis: Monthly Review, Vol. 41, No. 5.
1990 The Question of Socialism: A Development Failure or an Ethical Defeat, Historical Workshop, 39.
1990 'Peasantry', Blackwell's Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences. (Oxford, 1990).
1990 "The Western experience and the danger of “Stalinism upside down”. Kommunist, No 1
1990 "Alternatives ever exist…", Znanie-Sila, No. 9
1991 Peasants and Scholars, CASID, Michigan State University.
1991 The question about knowing yourself and knowing others becomes the central question and the central barrier to your development. Fermer, No 10
1994 Charity and Knowledge, (together with S Ramon), Znanie i Sila.
1995 The Treble Death of Alexander Chayanov. Sociologicheskiy Zhurnal.
1995 Peasant as a Great Unknown, Pravda, No. 39 (27457)
1996 The idea of progress is from Majid Rachneman, The Post-Development Reader. (Zed Books). Russian translation in the journal "Questions of Philosophy", 1998
1996 Placing Social Work Within Social Theory and Political Practice, in S Ramon (ed) The Interface of Social Work and Social Policy. (Venture Press (Birmingham) & Open Society (Moscow)). Books Russian translation, Aspect Press
1997 Social Work as a cultural phenomenon of contemporaneity, Russkij Zhurnal
1998 Social Work: a new profession and a new academic discipline, Kuda idet Rossia, M., V.5
1998 Reflexive Methodology in Research in Contemporary Rural Russia. Sotsiologicheskii Zhurnal, No 3-4
1998 Double-Reflexive Methodology in the 1991/7 Studies of Contemporary Rural Russia Published in: Qualitative Methods in Sociological Fieldwork.By Eugene M. Kovalev and Ilya E. Steinberg. Moscow. Logos, 1999. In Russian.
1999 Teodor Shanin: Democratization as setting of the system of the mistake self-amendment, U.Ozdemirov, Jabloko Rossii, No. 41 (75)
2000 Election in the USA. USA needs new ideas, Ekspert, No. 43(225)
2001 We are united by the feeling of shame: to go into Europe Russia should turn left, Ekspert, No. 37 (297)
2001 The usefulness of otherness: British academic tradition and Russian academic education, Vestnik Evropu, M., v.III.
2002 Lessons of history: the limits of political imagination, Otechestvennije zapiski. Zhurnal dlja medlennogo chtenija, No. 4
2002 The Place of Intelligence, P.Kamenchenko, Bol’shoj gorod, No. 32
2005 No peasants while the peasant question still exist, V.Kurennij, Politicheskij Zhurnal
2005 How to stop capitalism from entering villages?, A.Obertinskij. Krestjanin
2006 In Russia overdoing things is ever more dangerous than not doing enough, Polit.ru (Peredovaja nauka)
2008 Russian Sociology: Theory versus field-results, Ekonomicheskaja sotsiologija, T.9, No 3
2008 The fight against bureaucratization of scholarship must be part of the general fight against bureaucratization, Troitskij Variant No 7
2014 Theodor Shanin. About the benefits of something else. British Academic Tradition and Russian University Education (Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, 2014)
In Memory of Teodor Shanin
"I would not like to write this post, but I should. Teodor Shanin nearly approached his 90th birthday, and this number was to some extent an important stimulus for him, a symbolic goal. When - about three years ago – he and I were thinking of writing a book and making a film about him jointly with Tatyana Sorokina, and we discussed the topic (the character of the book and film was obvious, and we had to decide the topic thereof), I proposed to choose happiness as a common thread. At first, he was surprised: is this a happy life full if it is full of so many losses, the sister and grandfather’s deaths, two wars, broken relationships, sufferings? In a while he agreed – yes, it will be necessary to reconsider the idea of happiness. “I’m a happy person indeed.” He was happy because he always lived as he thought was appropriate. And until the last minute, he remained within the historical mainstream, and not outside, away from spiritual retirement.
The book “Teodor is Against” was published in December and he carefully read it at all stages of its preparation, he even checked the signatures under the photographs.
Among other things, he deleted some information he considered too personal, saying - "This is not essential since I am alive. Later." Now we can print some of it. Because it will be printed postmortal. Alas. It would be better if we were still not allowed to print it.
“From my childhood I remembered my father as a hero, but then his heroic position faded away. When my mother told him that we needed to move to Israel, in response he attempted to get away, telling tales about his health, some circumstances, that we needed to wait for some official decisions. Mom left for Israel alone; we stayed close we her, while my father settled in Paris, where he did not feel very comfortable, so to speak. A successful, adventurous person he turned into a burden. When he died, I went to Europe by ship (we collected money from friends, passing the hat around), I attended his funeral, and when I was near his coffin something happened that had a great impact on me.
There were a lot of people, about 400 people, flags representing political movements, pathos ... And two leaders of the two Zionist parties located in Paris spoke at his grave. They argued with my father. They were addressing the grave saying that one should not be so stubborn, one should not be so principled, so unwilling to accept a compromise. The more they talked, the more I wanted to answer them, which was impossible; my throat was tight, I wanted to cry. But you were not allowed to. Boys do not cry, this is what they told me. Yet the last person to speak was the rabbi, who said:
- Our laws dictate that if a person was killed through violence, and it is not known who killed him, but his body was found on the territory of the community, ten elders must wash their hands and say: it was not our hands that shed this blood. Why does the Talmud demand this from us? Because when a person dies, we do not know who is responsible for the death. The one who killed him physically, or the one who did not help him when it was necessary. And so I am saying in front of this man's grave: let the ten elders wash their hands.
After he had said so, I came up to him, shook his hand, and thanked him for what he said for me, for my whole family.
Over the years, I realized that I have the right to cry and that I should not hold back my tears.”
Let’s not hold back our tears. Goodbye, Teodor.
Twenty-five years ago
The Moscow School had not been properly functioning yet, the organization was underway and everything was still hanging by a thread.
Shanin had already stayed longer in Russia and once, having arrived in England, he looked in the wrong direction when crossing the road and he was hit by a car that was making a U-turn.
When they told me, I immediately asked without thinking:
- What happened to the car? – meaning that we believed that Teodor was immortal, somehow it was not even discussed. So was it back then.
Moscow, on the contrast, was black and dirty, the second building of the Academy of National Economy (the ANE) looked like an ordinary Soviet office - only one or two rooms had fresh office furniture resembling a group of foreign tourists numb with fear. The ANE and Soros were supposed to give money for the Moscow School, however, the ANE was a temporary bankrupt with its Blue Tooth (the abandoned building of the Zenith Business Center, owned by the ANE, where construction has not been completed), and Teodor had another conflict with Soros. We had already started the first academic year and did our best to enroll our first students, and it was strange enough to think that now everything would vanish again as if it had never existed. The best Moscow experts, invited to the School Rescue meeting, kept saying that there was no way out.
On that day Shanin promised to pay the School lecturers out of his own pocket. And he did so.
And then everything went right. The famous 2-story library was built in the most terrible empty room.
Twenty-five years. Over these years, one could be born, finish school or graduate from a college, get a bachelor degree and then come to the Moscow school to see Shanin and hear his voice.
He accomplished a lot of important things, but this one is of utmost importance: a sustainable institution that has outlived its founder.
“There is nothing after death, but you should not be afraid. And I am not afraid. In general, it is a problem for me to feel fear.” So, Shanin was wrong, as it turns out, after death the deceased person continues to live in his/her the community and Shaninka represents such community. If a person established a community, then his life becomes the life of his/her followers who continue living it in space and time. Therefore, along with the feeling of loss we feel gratitude for those 10 years of life in Shaninka, where we have: 1) the most wonderful students who stimulate our passion for professional growth, who are devoted and insatiable, full of interest in studies and radiating life; 2) nice colleagues to work with and spend some quality time together; 3) vigorous stream of academic life, which keeps you afloat and make you feel excitement long after you have left it 4) the friendliest rector in the world and the most creative PR department. What else? 5) Our library (!), it is a window into the world and just a universe-in-itself; 6) the ability to survive everything irrespective of anything that may happen in our country; 7) Shanin, “invisible” in everyday life, is always ready to help. And, of course, the geographic coverage of Shaninka followers, who always shared happiness and expressed their sympathy when Shaninka had its highs and lows; there are or will be new followers to enter this space-and-time dimension.
Many of my friends are Shanin's students, and I, being an outside observer, admired ambitions of this person who in post-Soviet Russia managed to bring international practices into our education system independently with no support from the government. I have never met such a person like him.
My favorite stage in his biography, however, refers to the late 1940s, when Shanin left postwar ruined Europe to volunteer and to fight for the independence of Israel.
Gleb Pavlovsky mentioned that one of his relatives worked in the port of Odessa and in 1948 or so at night he loaded boxes with no identification marks prepared for sea transportation, and there were “Schmeisser guns” inside.
Shanin, who heard this story, exclaimed:
- Oh, I remember those Schmeissers! They were wonderful! We unloaded those boxes in Jaffa, waist-deep in water.
Then Israel and Shanin won, and Shanin went to England to pursue a career of a sociologist and to bring this experience to Russia later on.
Now there are people here who also have no fear.
It is amazing how much one can achieve and cope within one life.
I do not know who surrounds Teodor: either an Arab army or his our own one; if it is his army, out of a joke or because of a fight, but you wish, of course, to be just like him - smart and bold.
Teodor seems to have brought back the word “courage” to our little team. I do not know if it will ever relate to our everyday life, but the spell has been pronounced - and it seems that we can do everything too, and we will live up to our 89s, and will write our books, and will be proud of ourselves.
it is very difficult to write anything about Teodor Shanin. but it is also impossible not to write, there should be something important in these social media.
but also, and most importantly, because Teodor said that it is possible and necessary to act and agree with people regarding main things, leaving minor differences behind. to my boring questions about how to separate main things, he said that there is something which you firmly support and cannot change your mind, and there is everything else.
the fact that Teodor is no longer with us is relevant, and it does not matter that we all have different experiences with him. what matters is that for many of us his departure means something.
and yet it is really difficult to write something - because I was lucky: (I had a chance) to talk to Teodor a lot, to have long and frequent conversations, to talk to him about various things, to joke, to ask for his advice, to argue and do something together. that is why I still cannot stand back and think of him as a person, and it is still hard to write stories and retell our dialogues.
yet there is no gap between the person I knew and the character represented in books and films about him.
in both sadness and frustration, in jokes and at lectures, in his relevant pathos that everyone quotes, in photographs and biographies, this is all Teodor Shanin.
and the fact that I, like many others, was lucky enough to change through our interactions with him.
sometime later I will definitely tell you a story, how he managed to speak seriously, and then to tell a story to respond to complicated questions.
I met Teodor in 2017, when I entered Shaninka (the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences) and started working at PostNauka. Back then Teodor immediately refused to briefly talk about peasantry studies in 10-15-minute educational videos: he believed that this time is not enough to dwell upon something meaningful. However, he agreed when I asked him to tell the story how Shaninka was established. As a result, we released this video when the university’s state accreditation was revoked.
I was lucky to talk to Teodor a few more times. The story how Shaninka was founded and his autobiography, recorded by Alexander Arkhangelsky, made a deep impression on me.
There are not so many role models, i.e. uncompromising people of flawless reputation, in the Russian academic environment, and Teodor is and will remain just such a person for me.
He represented the “third” way for Russian universities. He loved to emphasize that when they were founding Shaninka, his primary objective was not to set up a mere replica of a UK university in Russia, but to create a place where the best practices of Russian/post-Soviet and UK universities would coexist in harmony, corresponding to the local environment. This idea remains valuable in times when all Russian universities are driven by the desire to be listed in international rankings, and justify any innovations by American or European practice.
This whole structure relied on academic freedom, i.e. not a formal and limited model of freedom that is now actively promoted, but the real spirit of freedom that still exists in Shaninka's classrooms and especially in its legendary library. Attending this library is some sort of esoteric experience for many university graduates.
For many of us, this was the first or even the only experience of residing in a free university that treats students and researchers as its primary value.
In the time of trade-offs, hypocrisy, and double standards, Teodor's sincerity and openness were striking. Students, lecturers, and alumni treated him like an old friend and addressed him informally. I cannot imagine Teodor calling his students “conspirators.” When the university’s accreditation was revoked a group of students and activities emerged in Shaninka, which tried to protect the university, and Teodor met with us, asked how he could help us, and told us that in 1968 he was as a lecturer in Birmingham and defended protesting students.
Teodor is a man who was able to set up a university in Russia in the 1990s and did not sacrifice his principles, without trade-offs and compromises. The history of the new university autonomy in Russia, if such history ever happens and is recorded, would begin with the story of how Teodor, on his second try, despite all the difficulties, was still able to found the “Moscow School” (this is how he called our university.)
Teodor was personally against the “Shaninka” name. He established the university not to immortalize his name; it was not his “personal project”. This is how students and alumni called the university, and at some point Teodor, most probably, got tired of arguing with them (although he never stopped reminding us about it.) He did not try to stick to the rector’s position and left his post in 2007.
Thank you for everything you have done for us.
R. I. P.
My first graduation ceremony was closed up by Teodor saying: “I would also like to hug all of you.” I was then very surprised at his strength, charm, sensitivity, and kindness. after a while, I was even more surprised when he invited me to his office for a conversation. it turned out to be his tradition. Teodor asked me about my preferences, about my family, my work in Shaninka. and during our conversation I was thinking how much warmth one person can radiate. for the first time in my life I saw such originality and grandeur. yes, Teodor was great, and it was a great happiness to work with him in the same school and a great sorrow to find out that he is no longer with us.
and I would also like to hug all of us.
Our teacher, the founder of the Moscow-British Higher School of Social and Economic Sciences (MSSES), which was popularly called Shaninka, died.
I studied at Shaninka during the turbulent period from 1999 through 2000, at the turn of the millennium; this was my second postgraduate education and it changed my life completely. It was something outstanding, the best people gave their lectures to us, we were the first students at the Faculty of Culture Management, the first stream, everyone was under pressure, and no one knew what would happen in the end. As a result, we changed by the time we left the institute.
Country-wise Shaninka is just a microscopic laboratory of new human resources, and we suffered a lot when we were leaving this 1-year paradise and entering the real world, but we all are still thankful to our humanitarian Hogwarts for delivering the best education.
We all addressed Shanin by his first name, i.e. Teodor, while everyone else we called by their first and patronymic names, which was noticeable, and our lecturers understood this imbalance, tried to be more democratic and insisted on addressing them by their first names, but we could not overcome the cultural barrier; however, with Shanin, it happened naturally ...
Once we were preparing for some sort of a Valentine's Day party and I asked him to share his favorite quote about love, he wrote it on a piece of paper, these were lines from Mayakovsky's poem:
“He” and “she” is my ballad.
I'm not terribly new.
That “he” is me
And that “she” -
I think Shanin did not die because of his age, he was a man of absolute grandeur, I want to believe that he died of disappointment, we all did not try very hard to change the world for the better, but he really wanted it, otherwise he would not have established such a school.
Rest in peace, our beloved Teodor, we will always remember you!
Teodor Shanin. He was without any exaggeration a great man. Probably anyone who knew him at least a little felt this. Is difficult to describe the striking blend of his charm, deep inner dignity and, at the same time, democracy. And yet, I just remembered that despite his sense of purpose and courage, I saw a few times how Teodor could not hold back his tears in public. I believe it is important to mention that it happened each time when he heard about human injustice to others. And this, it seems to me, is all about Teodor.
In loving memory,
- Who is this girl? - asks the deputy minister.
- Well, she studied at Shaninka ...
“We didn't study at Shaninka,” colleagues say when they are angry about something complicated, new, or have mixed feelings.
“Why are you so smart, have you graduated from Shaninka?”, Zadornov, Russian stand-up comedian, used to say jokingly.
But, perhaps, for Teodor the most powerful word that describes everything most treasured in people, his school, graduates, in the whole world, was the word “beautiful”. It is beautiful as a connection between ethics and aesthetics. Beautiful is the beauty of the soul, and the mind, it is justice, and courage. And if he was about to criticize something, then, probably, the strongest phrase he would say or think would be “this is not nice”.
Today we say goodbye to him. Teodor Shanin is no longer a point on the map. Now he is Teodor Archipelago. The archipelago which embraces all of us.
In 2015, I coordinated the first Gefter’s Readings, which took place as part of the Shaninka annual academic conference. All this happened recently, just five years ago. Perhaps Shanin was the last of those outstanding people who connected several historical periods for us.
Once Teodor attended a reflexive seminar that we were going to coordinate together. His life story served as grounds for group reflections concerning interpretation and life choices. Teodor told us about his life and we started the analytical part. He was silent and listened to the group discussions. Then at some point we got carried away and started to argue, interrupting each other. I worried a lot about the timing and tried to stick to the agenda and support my idea of the seminar, while the guys defended their ideas. Teodor listened in silence and then put an end to this mess, saying in his own style, but we all suddenly realized what he was saying: “At this stage the reflective work can be considered finished.” And all of a sudden we felt ashamed.
We agreed that I would come to his office “when it becomes quiet.” In the end, two weeks later I was sitting in his office on the sixth floor and we were talking. We discussed various things - from the discussion style in the British parliament and the working methods of Russian TV presenters, to his personal story of how he was expelled from the party. To sum up, it was specific reflexive work concerning our seminar. In his traditional style, Teodor generalized results of our reflections aphoristically. “Politeness is a tool of knowledge!,” he said. This statement was a nice summary of our conversation about how an argument may and should serve as a tool for reaching agreement regarding our new knowledge about the structure of reality. And he squinted his eyes slyly and expressed another statement that ended our conversation about the seminar: "If I were accountable for everything here, I would say – It is prohibited! Although I do not like to prohibit anything. But since you understand and admit that you were wrong, then everything is fine. And we are still friends, even better friends than we used to be. You need to arrange a seminar on this topic. But not now. And when you are done, please, invite me.”
It was at the end of 2019. I will not have time to invite Teodor. However, it seems to me that all I am doing now is teaching people to work with our mentality in preparation for this seminar. And Teodor, of course, is always nearby.
When I listened to Teodor’s stories I could feel how the 20th century is coming back to life in front of my eyes. I think that the most important memory of him is a living memory – the efforts and boldness of those people who know him or heard about him, in any conditions around us.