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Social Anthropology:


Tom Boylston

Tom Boylston
Dr Tom Boylston
5.03 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EN8 9LD
+44 (0)131 650 3909
Research Interests
Media anthropology, Game studies, Anthropology of Religion, Anthropology of Technology, Anthropology of Ethiopia

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Friday 12-2

I am an anthropologist specialising in play, technology, and religion. I am interested in immersion, experience, and the building of worlds - in particular, how embodied disciplines (such as play, practice, or fasting) make meaningful lifeworlds. I am currently developing a new research project on games and mental health, which aims to understand game addiction debates through the ethics and aesthetics of immersion. I run a games and research group called Games for Humans and collaborate with various people in research-based game design.

My previous work focused on the anthropology of Orthodox Christianity in Ethiopia, and gave rise to much of my current interest in media and worldbuilding. I maintain an interest in the anthropology of Ethiopia. My monograph describes how religious prohibitions and techniques of mediation build religious worlds in Orthodox Christian Ethiopia. Where much work on modernity and religion describes a quest for  un-mediated experience of God, I argue that Ethiopian Orthodoxy insists on the importance of mediation, and builds a disciplined religious world out of a diverse chain of spiritual and human intermediaries.


The Stranger at the Feast: Prohibition and Mediation in an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Community - University of Califronia Press, 2018

Available to download free and open access

Topics interested in supervising

I am interested in supervising students studying topics related to the anthropology of games and play, anthropology of media and technology, Ethiopia, and anthropology of religion

If you are interested in being supervised by Tom Boylston, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Social Anthropology