Dr Zoe Knox

Associate Professor of Modern Russian History

School/Department: School of History, Politics and International Relations

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 2711



I joined Leicester in 2006. Prior, I was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Rice University (Houston, USA) and a Postdoctoral Fellow at Monash University (Melbourne, Australia). My PhD was completed at Monash. In 2019, I was elected Treasurer of the British Association of Slavonic & East European Studies (BASEES), the UK's leading society for researchers of the region. I am founder and co-convenor of the BASEES Study Group on Religion and Spirituality in Russia and Eastern Europe and Reviews Editor of the journal Religion, State & Society. I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.


My interests centre on the history of religious tolerance and intolerance in the modern world. I have researched a wide range of related topics, from religious conscientious objectors in World War I America and legislation on freedom of conscience in post-Soviet Russia to the concept of extremism as applied to Jehovah's Witnesses in Putin's Russia and religious dissent under Soviet-style communism. 

In recent years, these interests have coalesced around Jehovah's Witnesses, a minority group which has been at the forefront of discussions about religious freedom worldwide since its emergence in Pennsylvania in the 1870s. This has been particularly notable throughout the former Soviet bloc. 

This research has led me to archives and specialist libraries in Australia, Hungary, Russia, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA, and to collaborate with other researchers around the globe.

The European Academy of Religion awarded my book Jehovah's Witnesses and the Secular World a special mention of excellence in the senior scholar category of the Giuseppe Alberigo Award.



Zoe Knox & J. deGraffenried (eds), Voices of the Voiceless: Religion, Communism, and the Keston Archive (Baylor University Press: Waco, TX, 2019)

Zoe Knox, Jehovah's Witnesses and the Secular World: From the 1870s to the Present (Palgrave Macmillan: London, 2018)

Zoe Knox, Russian Society and the Orthodox Church: Religion in Russia after Communism (Routledge: London, 2005)


Essays and Articles

Zoe Knox & S. Rock, 'Orthodox Pilgrimage in Eastern Europe: An Introduction', Journal of Orthodox Christian Studies 4, no. 1 (2021), pp. 13-20. 

Zoe Knox, 'Russian Religious Life in the Soviet Era' in R. Poole, G. Patterson & C. Emerson (eds), Oxford Handbook of Russian Religious Thought (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2020), pp. 60-75.

Zoe Knox, '"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.

Zoe Knox, 'Jehovah's Witnesses as Extremists: The Russian State, Religious Pluralism, and Human Rights', The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review 46 (2019), pp. 128-157.

Zoe Knox, 'Jehovah's Witnesses as Un-Americans? Scriptural Injunctions, Civil Liberties, and Patriotism', Journal of American Studies 47, no. 4 (November 2013), pp. 1081-1108.

Zoe Knox, 'Preaching the Kingdom Message: The Jehovah's Witnesses and Soviet Secularization' in Catherine Wanner (ed.), State Secularism and Lived Religion in Soviet Russia and Ukraine (Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 244-271.

Zoe Knox, 'The Watch Tower Society and the End of the Cold War: Interpretations of the End-Times, Superpower Conflict, and the Changing Geo-Political Order', Journal of the American Academy of Religion 79, no. 4 (December 2011), pp. 1018-1049.

Zoe Knox, 'Writing Witness History: The Historiography of the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania', Journal of Religious History 35, no. 2 (2011), pp. 157-180.


I would be delighted to hear from potential MPhil or PhD students interested in religious tolerance and intolerance in the modern world; religion, state and society in Russia; religion and spirituality in the Soviet Union; or Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide. 

As Director of the School's PGR programmes, I have extensive experience mentoring PhD applicants on funding applications and can advise on opportunities in the Midlands as well as schemes at Leicester to support doctoral research. 


I have taught at five universities in three different countries over the course of my career and bring a wealth of teaching experience to the undergraduate classroom. 

My teaching at Leicester has included a wide range of modules, at all year levels, on modern European history, late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Russian history, religion in the USSR, and religious history more broadly. These range from an introductory course on Soviet history (ie. the second year Option module 'Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union') to a very detailed, primary-source based examination of religion in modern Russia (i.e. the year-long Special Subject 'Church, State and Belief in Soviet Russia, 1941-1991').

In addition, I have contributed to teaching on the History Master's programme in various ways, including sessions on archives and research methodology and a module entitled 'Religious Conflict and Coexistence', taught alongside early modernist and medievalist colleagues.  

I have supervised undergraduate 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. 


The European Academy of Religion awarded my 2019 monograph Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Secular World a special mention of excellence in the senior scholar category of the Giuseppe Alberigo Award.
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