Erik Scott

Assistant Professor, History
Humanities Research Fellow
Primary office:


Scott's project examines the history of defection and uses it to investigate how national and ideological borders of the socialist world were defined, disputed, and sometimes transgressed. It focuses on Soviet defectors (perebezchiki) and the development of the Soviet border regime in particular but also considers how capitalist states facilitated the practices, even though they were not always sure what to do with defectors themselves, often viewing them as ideologically unreliable and psychologically unstable, or as potential Soviet spies. Tracing the winding journeys of defectors from the Soviet Union to the West through border zones, transit hubs, extraterritorial spaces, and disputed areas beyond the limits of state jurisdiction, such as international waters and airspaces, the project challenges the notion of the Cold War world as a place of stable boundaries and offers a granular perspective on how states operate in liminal spaces and how people navigate them.


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