College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Erik R. Scott

Associate Professor
Primary office:
Wescoe Hall
Room 3622


Modern Russia, Eurasia, and the Soviet Union; migration and diaspora; borders; comparative empires

Office Hours Fall 2019: On leave for Fall 2019 semester.

Research Profile:

In his research, Professor Scott (Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley) explores migration and diaspora within and beyond the imperial borders of Russia and Eurasia. His book, Familiar Strangers: The Georgian Diaspora and the Evolution of Soviet Empire, looks at the USSR not simply as a Russian empire, but as an “empire of diasporas,” where politics, culture, and economics were defined by the mixing of a diverse array of mobile nationalities. Following the history of Georgians beyond the Georgian republic from 1917 to the present, the book examines the evolution of the Soviet multiethnic empire from the perspective of its most prominent internal diaspora.

He is currently at work on a second book, Illegal Emigration: Soviet Defectors and the Borders of the Cold War World, which follows the unauthorized movement of people across Soviet state lines. Through an examination of the political, legal, and cultural phenomenon of Soviet defection, the project investigates how the global borders of the Cold War were defined, disputed, and transgressed in refugee camps, border zones, extraterritorial spaces, international waters, and on board airplanes, shaping an international refugee regime whose legacy remains with us to this day.

He has held research fellowships at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and at Georgetown University’s Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies. He has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Philosophical Society, and Fulbright-Hays, among others.

In addition to his historical research, Professor Scott is the author of several publications on contemporary Russia and Eurasia and an op-ed in the Washington Post discussing the historical context of the current refugee crisis.

Recent Publications:

  • Familiar Strangers: The Georgian Diaspora and the Evolution of Soviet Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016; 2017 (paperback). Russian-language edition in press at New Literary Observer (NLO).
  • “Edible Ethnicity: How Georgian Cuisine Conquered the Soviet Table” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 13, 4 (Fall 2012): 831-858.
  • Organized Crime and Corruption in Georgia (Co-editor and contributor). London and New York: Routledge, 2007; 2013 (paperback).  


Teaching Profile:

Professor Scott teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Russian, Soviet, and world history. His classes emphasize the diversity of Russia and the Soviet Union and examine Russian history’s global dimensions. In teaching, he draws extensively on literature, film, and music and encourages his students to consider what everyday life can tell us about broader historical changes.

Recent Courses:

  • HIST 117: Russia: An Introduction
  • HIST 301: The Historian’s Craft
  • HIST 376: Immigrants, Refugees, Diasporas
  • HIST 378: Beyond the Iron Curtain
  • HIST 568: Rise & Fall of the Soviet Union
  • HIST 808: Comparative Empires

Calendar of Events

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