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 and sexual and reproductive health in Uganda, East Africa. Her first book, Preaching Prevention: Born-Again Christianity and the Moral Politics of AIDS in Uganda (Ohio University Press, 2015), considers the impact of one of the U.S.’s largest global health programs to date – 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 (“abstain and be faithful”). 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. This research has expanded in recent years to consider other strands of social activism within the born-again community in Uganda, including a study that focused on the moral and cultural cosmologies that have animated the backlash against homosexuality and sexual rights in Uganda in recent years. 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.
Dr. Boyd is currently working on an edited volume, Legislating Gender and Sexuality in Africa: Rights, Society, and the State, with her colleague Emily Burrill in UNC’s Department of Women’s and Gender Studies. Using sexual and gender-based rights as an analytic lens, this collection explores how contestations over gendered and sexual categories shed light on broader concerns over citizenship, moral personhood, economic change, and political agency in African communities today. Another current research project, still in its early stages, focuses on issues relating to reproductive health in Uganda. Future fieldwork will address several overlapping topics, including reproductive education, the 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:
2018 "The Gospel of Self-Help: Born-Again Musicians and the Moral Problem of Dependency in Uganda." American Ethnologist 45 (2)

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).