Taylor Zajicek is a historian of Eurasia, the Middle East, and the places that unite them.
Zajicek’s first book project is an environmental and transnational history of one of the planet’s most notorious chokepoints: the Black Sea region. The manuscript details how the Black Sea’s fractious geopolitics—from the Cold War to today’s Russo-Ukrainian conflict—have transformed the region’s ecosystems.
Each chapter traces a material circulation that transcended the Black Sea’s political divisions. Case studies include scientific research alongside a diverse cast of nonhuman border crossers, such as pollution, dolphins, seeds, Chernobyl radionuclides, and invasive species. The project models a comparative approach to the history of the world’s oceans, whose particularities are often obscured by universal narratives of globalization or ecological decline.
Zajicek’s writing is based on archival research in six languages across seven countries. This fieldwork has been sponsored by external grantors, including the Fulbright-Hays Program, Social Science Research Council, and Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.
At the Harriman Institute, Zajicek is also working on a desert history of Central Asia and a digital humanities analysis of 1,300 Soviet conservation posters.
Zajicek earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2023 and M.A. from the University of Washington in 2014 (the latter as a Gordon C. Culp Fellow). Between graduate studies he interned at the U.S. Embassy to Uzbekistan, worked as a photographer, and taught English in Turkey as a Fulbright grantee.
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