The Centre for Anthropology and Ethnography of Orthodox Christianity

The Centre for Anthropology and Ethnography of Orthodox Christianity (CAEO) is an international, inter-institutional research centre bringing together the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge (IOCS) and Department of Anthropology, University College London, in a formal knowledge exchange partnership. The Centre studies Orthodox Christianity — both Eastern and Oriental — from an interdisciplinary anthropological and ethnographic perspective. It focuses on the phenomenon of being human, both in the specifics of the human person and in the wider context of being in relation and society.

While many in the social sciences aspire to study religion from a purportedly neutral perspective, theologians and scholars from within religious communities are often thought of as being confined to a confessional understanding. CAEO will approach anthropology both as a social scientific discipline and as the locus of the aporia on ‘being human’, following Metropolitan Kallistos Ware’s point that anthropology will be a central concern of Orthodox Christianity in the 21st century.

Being a hub for work relating to Orthodox anthropology and ethnographic enquiry, the Centre is designed as an environment and network for empirically grounded social scientific researchers and those in theology and religious studies who employ adjacent methodologies and explore related themes. It seeks to foster dialogue and collaboration among scholars, students, and practitioners interested in the diverse ways in which Orthodox Christianity is practised, experienced, and understood across different social, cultural, and historical contexts, while offering a venue for dialogue with theological concerns. Within Orthodoxy globally, there is marked difference in practices and understandings of right order. The Centre offers a place for cross comparison in order to enhance mutual understanding.

The main purpose of CAEO is to produce innovative, high-quality research and insights into the rich tapestry and complex dynamics of Orthodox Christian cultures and societies, past and present. This is achieved through a range of research projects, scholarly collaborations, conferences, seminars, workshops, and academic publications. CAEO aims to become a leading international hub for the study of Orthodox Christianity from a social scientific perspective. Its research themes include, but are not limited to, Orthodox Christian theological anthropology, practices, rituals, and traditions; Orthodox Christian communities and networks; Orthodox Christian identities, beliefs, and values; the social, cultural, and political implications of Orthodox Christianity in contemporary societies, both within and outside of Orthodox-majority countries; Orthodox Christian art, literature, and media; and Orthodox Christian encounters with other religions and cultures. The Centre also values interdisciplinary collaboration, working closely with scholars and practitioners from different disciplines and fields, and seeks to engage with wider audiences beyond academia, including Orthodox Christian communities, policymakers, religious leaders and the general public, by organising public events, outreach activities, and policy briefings that promote dialogue, mutual understanding, and social impact.

Contact: Revd Dr Boniface (Timothy) Carroll (Visiting Professor IOCS) at: