Associate Professor


A.B., Cultural Anthropology, Duke University; M.A., Ph.D., Anthropology, New York University

Teaching and Research Interests:

African ethnography and social history; gender and sexuality; medical anthropology; visual anthropology; ethnographic film; urban Africa; religion; Uganda, East Africa

Current Research:

Lydia Boyd is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in medical and visual anthropology. Since joining the Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies in the fall of 2010, her research has considered the interconnected effects of religious activism and global health policy on AIDS prevention efforts in Uganda, East Africa. Her main field study, which she began in Uganda in 2004, examines the promotion of sexual abstinence as an HIV/AIDS prevention strategy among born-again Christian youth in Kampala. Broadly, this project considers how medical discourses of health and disease intersect with contemporary and historical anxieties concerning sexual morality, marriage, kinship, and gender relations in Uganda. Her first book, based on this research, Preaching Prevention: Born-Again Christianity and the Moral Politics of AIDS in Uganda (2015), analyzes the effects of a major U.S. health policy — President’s Bush’s 2003 PEPFAR program — in terms of the cultural and moral logics which motivated the Ugandan Christian activists who popularized its HIV-prevention strategies, and the effects such efforts had on program efficacy in the years following its implementation. Her recent article in "Anthropological Quarterly" builds on her research with religious AIDS activists to examine the moral and cultural cosmologies which animated the recent backlash against homosexuality and sexual rights in Uganda. As part of her fieldwork with Ugandan Christian youth, she has also researched and written about the growing popularity of Christian popular culture and other religious media in Kampala.

Another research project, still in its early stages, will focus on issues relating to reproductive health in Uganda today. Future fieldwork will address several overlapping topics, including reproductive education, use of new reproductive technologies, traditional discourses and practices shaping women’s experiences of health and fertility, and tensions surrounding such issues in the contemporary women’s rights movement in Uganda. Dr. Boyd is also a documentary filmmaker, and received a Certificate in Culture & Media from the interdisciplinary program in Media, Culture and History at New York University.

Selected Publications:
2015. Preaching Prevention: Born-Again Christianity and the Moral Politics of AIDS in Uganda. Ohio University Press.

2015. “‘Marriage is the Solution’: Born-Again Christianity, American Global Health Policy and the Ugandan Effort to Prevent HIV/AIDS,” in Globalization and Socio-Cultural Processes in Contemporary Africa. Palgrave Macmillan.

2014. “Ugandan Born-Again Christians and the Moral Politics of Gender Equality.” Journal of Religion in Africa 44(3/4).

2013. “The Problem with Freedom: Homosexuality and Human Rights in Uganda.” Anthropological Quarterly 86(3).