Vicotira-Smolkin-A-Sacred-Space-Is-Never-EmptySmolkin’s book, A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: A History of Soviet Atheism, from Princeton University Press, is the first history of Soviet atheism from the Russian Revolution of 1917 to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Available at Princeton University Press

Available on Amazon



Mass Media 

Explainer, “Why a centuries-old religious dispute over Ukraine’s Orthodox Church matters today,” February 19, 2019. The Conversation. Read Now.

Essay, “A Matter of Life and Death,” December 14, 2018, The Immanent Frame Blog, Social Science Research Council. Read Now.

Editorial, “This is what it feels like to be separated at the border,” June 20, 2018, The Washington Post. Read Now. 

Selected Publications


“The Confession of an Atheist Who Became a Scholar of Religion”: Nikolai Semenovich Gordienko’s Last Interview,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 15, no. 3 (Summer 2014): 596-620.


“The Ticket to the Soviet Soul: Science, Religion and the Spiritual Crisis of Late Soviet Atheism,” Russian Review 73, no. 2 (April 2014): 171-197. *Received Honorable Mention for 2015. Distinguished Article Prize from the Association for the Study of Eastern Christian History and Culture.


“Cosmic Enlightenment: Scientific Atheism and the Soviet Conquest of Space,” in Into the Cosmos: Space Exploration and Soviet Culture in Post-Stalinist Russia, eds. James T. Andrews and Asif A. Siddiqi (Pittsburg, PA: University of Pittsburgh, 2011), 159-194.


“The Contested Skies: The Battle of Science and Religion in the Soviet Planetarium,” in Cosmic Enthusiasm: The Cultural Impact of Space Exploration on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe Since the 1950s (London: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2011), 57-78.


“The Voices of Silence: The Death and Funeral of Alexander Blok,” in Petersburg/ Petersburg: Novel and City, ed. Olga Matich (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2010), 305-331.