BiographyRobert Johnson is a graduate of Antioch College (BA, 1965) and Cornell University (PhD, 1974). Since 1971 he has been a faculty member at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities mainly in Russian and European History. Areas of expertise include social history, urban history, and history of the Cold War. He served as Director of the University’s Centre for Russian and East European Studies (1989-2000) and headed the Stalin Era Research and Archives Project (1993-2000). In 2012 he became Professor Emeritus of History. His research and publications have dealt mainly with social and economic issues in History—often in a cross-national framework. His first major study dealt with urbanization and industrialization in 19th century Moscow (Peasant and Proletarian, 1979). In The Seam Allowance (1983) he contributed a history of “sweated labour” and home-based work in Europe and North America from the 18th century to the 20th. He subsequently wrote about the demographic effects of Soviet industrialization, and more generally about Soviet population trends in the 1930s (based on data from the rediscovered censuses of 1937 and 1939). Urban markets in Russia were another of his research topics. In 2008 he co-chaired an international conference on Eurasian Cities; his own contribution was an exploration of the notion of cosmopolitanism in relation to Moscow’s history. Recent work includes a study of public spaces in Communist and post-Communist Russia.
In addition to academic publications he has been a commentator on Russian affairs in the news media. He has also produced several radio documentaries for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: “In the Stalin archives.” (2003), “The Cold War Declassified” (2006), and “Revising History” (2013).
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
History; Urban Studies; Journalism