Eileen M. Kane

Eileen M. Kane

Professor of History
Chair of the Department of History
Director of the Global Islamic Studies Program

Joined Connecticut College: 2008

A.B., Brown University
M.A., Ph.D., Princeton University


Russian/Soviet/post-Soviet history

Modern Europe


Eileen Kane is a historian of modern Europe, and her research looks at the relationship between Russia and the Middle East. As an undergraduate, she spent a life-changing year studying in Moscow in 1991-2, the year the USSR was dissolved. Living in the dorms of Moscow State University with students from across the socialist world and the Soviet Union, she became aware of the many different ethnic and religious groups that had lived under tsarist and then Soviet rule, and yet were barely mentioned in her history classes in the U.S. Her interest in the non-Russian peoples of the USSR carried her after college to Istanbul, Turkey, where she spent two amazing years (1995-7) on a Fulbright Scholarship, learning Turkish and studying migrations from the Caucasus to Anatolia. She received her PhD in history from Princeton in 2005.

At Connecticut College, Kane teaches courses on the history of modern Europe and Eurasia in a comparative, global perspective. One of her favorite courses to teach is “Modern Europe, 1790s-1990s,” a critical history of progressive reforms, promises, and failures in Europe, from the French Revolution through the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. Other courses include “The Soviet Union and Its Legacies,” “Jews and Muslims in Europe,” “Pilgrimage in the Modern World,” and a first-year seminar, “The Politics of Citizenship.” 

Kane’s first book, Russian Hajj: Empire and the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Cornell, 2015), reveals an important yet virtually unknown chapter from Russia’s past: the empire’s emergence in the nineteenth century as a global hajj crossroads, central to major routes to Mecca used by Muslims from Russian, Persian, Afghan, and Chinese lands. Arguing against the standard view that Russia sought to isolate its Muslims from contacts with coreligionists during this period, the book demonstrates that Russia preserved and tapped into the hajj, exploiting it as a mechanism of integration and expansion into Arab lands.

Russian Hajj won the Marshall Shulman Book Prize from the Association of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies. The book has been taught in a range of college courses, from “Russia and the World” to “Tourism and Empire” to “Migrations in the Modern Middle East.” It was published in Russian in 2020 as part of the Historia Rossica series at New Literary Observer Press in Moscow.

Kane’s second book, Russian-Arab Worlds: A Documentary History (Oxford, 2023), continues the work of integrating Russian and Middle East history. Co-edited and co-written with Arabic literature scholar Margaret Litvin and historian Masha Kirasirova, Russian-Arab Worlds reveals the shared history and worlds of ideas, human relationships, and institutions that transcended formal state borders in the modern period. Kane is currently working on her third book, Emigrant Empire: Russia and the Making of the Modern Middle East, a history of mass migrations from Russia to the Middle East (1840s-1940s), and the new political possibilities these migrants helped create.

Kane’s research has been recognized with three awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a Summer Stipend (2016) and two Fellowships (2009-10 and 2019-20), as well as a Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (2012-13). The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Kane a New Directions Fellowship in 2017 to support a year of formal training in Middle East history and languages at Brown University and YIVO (NYC), and research towards her third book.

Visit the history department website.

Majoring in History. 

Contact Eileen M. Kane

Mailing Address

Eileen M. Kane
Connecticut College
Box # HISTORY/Winthrop Hall
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320


310 Winthrop Hall