The Stranger at the Feast: Prohibition and Mediation in an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Community

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The Stranger at the Feast is a pathbreaking ethnographic study of one of the world’s oldest and least-understood religious traditions. Based on long-term ethnographic research on the Zege peninsula in northern Ethiopia, the author tells the story of how people have understood large-scale religious change by following local transformations in hospitality, ritual prohibition, and feeding practices. Ethiopia has undergone radical upheaval in the transition from the imperial era of Haile Selassie to the modern secular state, but the secularization of the state has been met with the widespread revival of popular religious practice. For Orthodox Christians in Zege, everything that matters about religion comes back to how one eats and fasts with others. Boylston shows how practices of feeding and avoidance have remained central even as their meaning and purpose has dramatically changed: from a means of marking class distinctions within Orthodox society, to a marker of the difference between Orthodox Christians and other religions within the contemporary Ethiopian state.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOakland
PublisherUnversity of California Press
Number of pages194
ISBN (Electronic)9780520968974
ISBN (Print)9780520296497
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2018

Publication series

NameThe Anthropology of Christianity
PublisherUniversity of California Press


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