Dr Zoe Knox

Associate Professor in Modern Russian HistoryZoe Knox

  • Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2711
  • Email: zk15@le.ac.uk
  • Office: Room 508, Attenborough Tower
  • Feedback and Support Times 2018-19: Tuesdays 11-12pm and Thursdays 11-12pm.
  • Dissertation Hour: Thursdays 12-1pm
  • Research Day: Mondays

Personal details

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

My PhD examined religious pluralism in late Soviet and post-Soviet Russia, particularly the Russian Orthodox Church's role in shaping discourse on religious tolerance and freedom of conscience. It was completed at Monash University (Melbourne, Australia). I later held a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Monash before moving to Rice University (Houston, USA) for an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship. In 2006, I took up a lectureship in modern Russian history at Leicester.

While I continue to research Russian religious history, my recent publications have transcended the Russian context to address salient questions about religious tolerance and persecutions in modern societies. My second book, Jehovah's Witnesses and the Secular World, argues that this religious community has shaped understandings of freedom of conscience in a wide range of historical and geographical settings to the extent it might be regarded a litmus test for freedom of conscience worldwide.

I am the co-convenor of the BASEES Study Group on Religion and Spirituality in Russia and Eastern Europe, which creates links between academics and postgraduate students in Britain and beyond researching religion and spirituality in the region. I am on the Editorial Board of Religion, State and Society and the BASEES/Routledge Series on Russian and East European Studies. I am a Council member of the Oxford-based charitable organisation the Keston Institute, founded in 1969 to study religion under communist regimes.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.


My teaching at Leicester includes a wide range of modules, at all year levels, on modern European history, twentieth-century Russian history, and religious history. These range from an introductory course on Soviet history (i.e. the second year Option ‘The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union’) to a very detailed examination of religion in modern Russia (i.e. the year-long Special Subject ‘Church, State and Belief in Soviet Russia, 1941-1991’).

I supervise third year dissertations and MA dissertations across a broad range of subjects relating to late Imperial, Soviet and post-Soviet Russia as well as the history of religion in modern Europe. There is a close link between my teaching areas and research interests.

Examples of modules that I teach:

Recent Publications


  1. Jehovah's Witnesses and the Secular World: From the 1870s to the Present (Palgrave Macmillan,2018)
  2. Russian Society and the Orthodox Church: Religion in Russia after Communism (Routledge, 2005; paperback 2009)

Articles and chapters

  1. 'A Greater Danger than a Division of the German Army': Bible Students and Opposition to War in World War I America’, Peace & Change 44, no 2 (2019), pp. 207-243.
  2. Jehovah’s Witnesses as Extremists: The Russian State, Religious Pluralism, and Human Rights’, The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review 46 (2019), pp. 128-157.
  3. (co-authored with Emily Baran), ‘The 2002 Russian Anti-Extremism Law: An Introduction’, The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review 46 (2019), pp. 97-104.

  4. The History of the Jehovah's Witnesses: An Appraisal of Recent Scholarship’, Journal of Religious History 41, no. 2 (June 2017), 251–260.
  5. (with A. Mitrofanova), The Russian Orthodox Church’ in L. Leustean (ed.), Eastern Christianity and Politics in the Twenty-first Century (Routledge, 2014), pp. 38-66.
  6. Jehovah's Witnesses as Un-Americans? Scriptural Injunctions, Civil Liberties, and Patriotism’, Journal of American Studies 47, no. 4 (November 2013), pp. 1081 – 1108.

PhD Supervision

I am currently first supervisor to three PhD students, working on church-state relations in the Gorbachev years; the creation of a Soviet civil religion; and Anglo-Russian relations. A fourth will start in September 2018. Past students have worked on Holocaust remembrance in contemporary Russia. I would be pleased to supervise PhD research on religious tolerance and intolerance in the modern world, particularly in relation to Christian minority groups; religion, state and society in twentieth-century Russia; and Orthodox churches in the Soviet Union.

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