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Research Students - Social Anthropology  
Alexandra S. Antohin  
Alexandra Antohin  

Year of start:
Social Anthropology

Research Topic:

An Ethnography of Orthodox Christianity in Wollo (Northern Ethiopia)


Primary Supervisor: Professor Charles Stewart
Secondary Supervisor: Dr. Rebecca Empson


For my doctoral research, I studied the dynamics of parish relations in several churches in an urban centre in northern Ethiopia. My aim was to learn how Orthodox Christians incorporated traditions of worship in their day-to-day activities and relations, focusing on ‘the church’ as an institutional unit and a source of inspiration for how Orthodox Christian religiosity is devised and elaborated by laypeople. Pivotal investigations for my research was evaluating subscribed actions such as preparation to receive the sacrament, attending liturgical services and partaking in the ebb and flow of life patterns and the structural enactment of Ethiopian Orthodox theology as it is transposed on cultural traditions, such as pilgrimage-making, formations of charity groups, and devotional activities in the home. This adherence to the forms of tradition and the expressive power of faith, through a phenomenological approach to everyday religion, will serve as principal themes of my dissertation. The project will focus on the importance of ritual actions in laypeople’s conceptions of the sacred, how these templates are adopted outside the church sphere and the ways in which the domain of Orthodox Christian tradition, in particular the commemoration ritual, can be applied to talk about the historicity of time and space as experienced by devotees.

Research interests

  • Anthropology of religion and religiosity
  • History and Anthropology
  • Post-soviet societies and Orthodox Christian cultures
  • Religious pluralism, multi-confessional politics in practice
  • Urban ethnographies

Academic Background/Education

MPhil/PhD Social Anthropology
University College London (2009-2013)

MA Anthropology
University of Alaska, Fairbanks (2008)

BA History
University of Alaska, Fairbanks (2004)


Gray, P & Antohin, A. 2012. Russian Orthodoxy and the Subversive ‘Slot’: Discourses of Christianity in Magadan, Russia.Berghahn Books (in review).

Antohin, A. 2011. Hidden Practice in Magadan: Parishioner Anxieties and Diocesan Perspectives on Russian Orthodoxy. Sibirica 1, 1-22.

Conference Papers

Antohin, A. 2012. “The Season of the Cross: the commemorative ritual at Gishen Mariam (Northern Ethiopia).” Paper presented at the Ethnographies of Eastern Christianities workshop, UCL, September 18.

Antohin, A. 2009. “Loss and Renewal in Magadan: The position of the Russian Orthodox Church in redefining a city”. Paper presented at Histories from the North: environments, movements, narratives [EUROCORES BOREAS], Rovaniemi, Finland, October 28-31.

Antohin, A. 2009. “The Effects of Social Change on Religious Life in Magadan”. Paper presented at the conference of the Alaska Anthropological Association, Juneau, Alaska, March 11-14.

Antohin, A. 2008. “Moral Upbringing by the State: The ‘Orthodox Culture’ concept in Russian Public Schools”. Paper presented at the conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA), Ljubljana, Slovenia, August 26-29.

Antohin, A. 2008. “Forward to the Past: The Future of Orthodox Identity in Russia”. Paper presented at Invited Panel on Religion and Age at the annual meeting of the American Geographers (AGA), Boston, MA, April 15-19.

Antohin, A. 2007.“We wrote the Bible and gave it to you”: Anecdotal Dialogues about Russian Orthodoxy”. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), Washington D.C., December 1.


This research is supported by the:

UCL Anthropology Graduate Bursary
Central Research Fund, University of London

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