Professor Kim KnottProfessor
I lead a programme of research in the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST) focused on actors and ideologies in social context. My research interests include the theorization of space and place; the interrogation of religious and political spaces; spatial metaphors in religious and political discourse; the relationship between religion and non-religion; the 'secular sacred'; media representations of religion; and religion and its intersections with migration, diasporas, diversity and ethnicity.
I teach on the first year module 'Religions in the Modern World' and on the MA module on 'Religion and Conflict' (distance learning). In recent years I have also taught an MA module on 'Interrogating Political and Religious Spaces', and modules on religions in modern Britain, religion and media, religious mapping, and religion and society (research process and methods).
I am particularly interested in how religion, the secular and post-secular are constructed and represented in public discourse, in what separates them and what they have in common. In recent articles I have identified some theoretical and methodological resources for breaking open the secular and for exploring the boundary between religion and non-religion. I have discussed the capacity of the concept of the 'sacred' to operate across this boundary with reference to those deeply-held beliefs and values that are non-negotiable.
Where and how religion is located in public life and how religious and other ideological bodies negotiate space for themselves are matters of broad public as well as academic concern. I have contributed to recent discussions about religious identities in superdiverse Britain. Read, listen and watch the Faith Debates organised by the 'Religion and Society' Programme in partnership with the think tank, Theos.
Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST)
I am Deputy Director of CREST and lead research on the transmission of ideas, beliefs and values and their role in regulating behaviour in families, schools, organisational contexts and between peers.
CREST is a national hub for understanding, countering and mitigating security threats. It brings together the UK’s foremost expertise in understanding the psychological and social drivers of the threat, the skills and technologies that enable its effective investigation, and the protective security measures that help counter the threat in the first place. It does so within a context of significant stakeholder and international researcher engagement. https://crestresearch.ac.uk. It sponsors the public information website, http://www.radicalisationresearch.org.
Religion, space and the secular
Since 2005 I have published on religion and spatial issues, including a book, The Location of Religion: A Spatial Analysis (Equinox 2005), a special issue of Temenos: The Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion, various book and journal articles, international conference panels, and a research project funded by the AHRC, 'Locating religion in the fabric of the secular'.
The first stage of the research focused on developing a spatial methodology for the study of religions (which has now been used extensively by research students in the UK, northern Europe, Canada and the US). The second stage involved applying this methodology to the location of religion in secular locations, including the left hand, a health centre, school, urban landscapes, media discourse, everyday ritual and academic disciplines, and to the relationship between the religious, secular and postsecular. Arising from this research, I have written articles on the spatial turn in the study of religion, the importance of place and space, religious mapping and other spatial methods, and the geography of religion.
A collaborative project, Iconic Religion: How Imaginaries of Religious Encounter Structure Urban Space (funded by the HERA Cultural Encounters Programme, with colleagues at Ruhr University, Germany and University of Utrecht in the Netherlands) took place from 2013-16. The UK case study was focused on sites in central London and Southwark. A major touring exhibition, The Urban Sacred, was developed. For further information on the exhibition and associated events, see Iconic Religion. An open access special issue on 'Iconic Religion in Urban Space' was published in Material Religion.
Media portrayals of religion
A research project, within the AHRC/ESRC 'Religion and Society' Programme, 'Media portrayals of religion and the secular sacred' (2008-10), replicated research I conducted in the 1980s, and took forward my interest in examining the 'sacred' as a theoretical resource for crossing the boundary between religious and secular concerns. Media Portrayals of Religion and the Secular Sacred: Representation and Change (co-authored with Elizabeth Poole and Teemu Taira) was published by Ashgate in 2013, in addition to various book chapters. This research generated a collaborative network funded by the ESRC (with Lori Beaman, Ottawa University, 2012-14), two internships, consultations and briefings, a roundtable of media professionals, and research-led teaching on religion and media. You can listen to a Religion and Society podcast in which I discuss the project, or consult a briefing paper on our findings produced by Engage: Media Awareness, Public Participation.
Diasporas, migration and identities
As director of this interdisciplinary research programme (funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council) I was responsible for creating a coherent programme, overseeing the commissioning process, the monitoring of the programme's forty-nine projects and networks, and the running of academic and stakeholder events in relation to these themes. The role also involved collaboration with the cultural sector, media, government, and community bodies, and working with other European centres and funding agencies. Diasporas, Migration and Identities: Final Director's Report is available on www.diasporas.ac.uk, and Diasporas: Concepts, Intersections, Identities, co-edited with Seán McLoughlin, was published in 2010 (Zed Books). The programme concluded with a Programme Directors' Impact Fellowship, in association with which I produced www.movingpeoplechangingplaces.org and an accompanying book, Moving People, Changing Places (CRP, 2011).
I have worked in this field since my doctoral studies, and have written on religion, ethnicity, migration and identity. Until leaving the University of Leeds in 2012, I directed the Community Religions Project (CRP) and supervised student teamwork projects on the 'Religious Mapping of Leeds'.
In the past I researched and published extensively in the fields of modern Hindu Studies, including Hinduism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, second edition 2016), new religious movements, including My Sweet Lord: The Hare Krishna Movement (Thorsons, 1986), religions in modern Britain, including Hinduism in Leeds: Religious Practice in Indian Hindu Communities and Modern Hindu Movements (CRP, 1986).
From January 2020 I will take up the role of President of the European Association for the Study of Religion. I also chair the governing board of Inform (Information Focus on Religious Minorities).
PhD Supervision Interests
Potential Doctoral Proposals
I have supervised over thirty research students on a wide variety of subjects, including sociology of religion, religion, place and space, modern Hindu movements, religion and public life, gender and religion, religion and violence, and religious identities. At present I supervise students working on non/religious discourse, internal migration and religion in Turkey, the roles of family and gender in terrorism, utopian movements, and liturgical change.
I welcome applications from potential doctoral candidates researching religious and secular relationships; religion, diasporas and migration; Hindu and Sikh diaspora communities; media and religion; ideologies and security threats; and from those wishing to apply spatial approaches to studying religion.
CREST: Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats
01/10/2015 → …
Iconic Religion: How Imaginaries of Religious Encounter Structure Urban Space
02/09/2013 → 31/08/2016
The role of ideology, belief and commitment in motivations, justifications and catalysis for action in the face of uncertainty
01/02/2013 → 30/11/2015
Religion, Discourse and Diversity: UK/Canada Collaboration
18/05/2012 → 17/05/2015
- Cyber Security Research Centre (PPR)
- Richardson Institute for Peace Studies
- Security Lancaster
- Security Lancaster (Academic Centre of Excellence)
- Security Lancaster (Behavioural Science)