Erik R Scott

Erik Scott
  • Director
  • Associate Professor
  • Editor, The Russian Review
  • Modern Russia, Eurasia, and the Soviet Union; Global and International History; Migration and Diaspora; Mass Culture; the Cold War and its Legacies

Contact Info

Wescoe Hall, Room 3622
1445 Jayhawk Boulevard
Lawrence, KS 66045
Bailey Hall, 320
1440 Jayhawk Boulevard
Lawrence, KS 66045


Erik Scott is an historian of modern Russia, the Soviet Union, and the global Cold War. His work examines migration, diaspora, and empire within and beyond the borders of Russia and Eurasia to illuminate the region’s remarkable diversity and reconsider its relationship to the broader world. 

His first book, Familiar Strangers: The Georgian Diaspora and the Evolution of Soviet Empire was published by Oxford University Press in 2016, released in paperback the following year, and translated into Russian by Moscow’s New Literary Observer in 2019. Familiar Strangersmoves past the typical divide between center and periphery, and colonizer and colonized, that guides most scholarship on empire to look at the USSR as an “empire of diasporas.” Investigating Georgian political, cultural, and economic networks that spanned Soviet territory, the book views the evolution of Soviet empire from the perspective of its most prominent internal diaspora. The book received the Vice Chancellor for Research Book Publication Award, was an honorable mention for the Council for European Studies Book Award, and a finalist for both the Central Eurasian Studies Book Award and the Joseph Rothschild Prize in Nationalism and Ethnic Studies. 

His second book, World Without Exit: Soviet Cold War Defectors and the Borders of Globalization is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. World Without Exit traces the winding journeys of defectors from the Soviet Union to the West through border zones, extraterritorial spaces, and areas at the limits of state jurisdiction, such as international waters and airspaces. In so doing, it reveals how disputes over defectors ended up restricting movement through in-between spaces across the globe and shaping an international refugee regime whose legacy and limitations remain with us to this day.

He received his B.A. from Brown University, his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and he has held research fellowships at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and 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, he is the author of several publications on contemporary Russia and Eurasia.

Since 2020, he has served as Editor of The Russian Review.


Modern Russia, Eurasia, and the Soviet Union; Global and International History; Migration and Diaspora; Mass Culture; the Cold War and its Legacies


Professor Scott teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Russian, Soviet, and global history. His classes emphasize the diversity of Russia and the Soviet Union and examine Russian history’s international context. 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 139: The Global Cold War
  • HIST 376: Immigrants, Refugees, Diasporas
  • HIST 378: Beyond the Iron Curtain
  • HIST 568: Rise & Fall of the Soviet Union
  • HIST 808: Comparative Empires

Selected Publications

  • “The Hijacking of Aeroflot Flight 244: States and Statelessness in the Late Cold War.” Past & Present 243, no. 1 (May 2019): 213-45.
  • “Soccer Artistry and the Secret Police: Georgian Football in the Multiethnic Soviet Empire.” In The Whole World Was Watching: Sport in the Cold War, edited by Robert Edelman and Christopher Young, 85-98. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2019.
  • Familiar Strangers: The Georgian Diaspora and the Evolution of Soviet Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016; 2017 (paperback). Russian-language edition (Moscow: New Literary Observer), 2019.
  • “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).

Selected Presentations