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Jessica Hardin on Cultivating Health, Deferring Agency: Samoan Christian Perspectives of Chronic Metabolic Illness
WhenWednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Campus locationGowen Hall (GWN)
Campus room201
Event typesLectures/Seminars

The discussion will cover instances when health maintenance practices––like diet, physical activity, and pharmaceutical intake––were interpreted through the lens of Samoan Pentecostal Christian ideas about wellness. Stories recounting illness and conversion experiences, healing prayers, or salvation prayers during hospital stays all provide viewpoints from which to understand how religious change––that is, being born-again––was measured through health. Here the discussion draws a distinction between health and wellness to foreground how the everyday management of food, fat, and fitness required learning a new set of health techniques around weight management, diet, physical activity, and pharmaceutical use. 

Jessica Hardin is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Pacific University, Oregon. Her research and teaching broadly focus on the ways medicine and religion shape lived experiences of chronic illness. In 2013, she published a co-edited volume with Megan McCullough, titled Reconstructing Obesity: The Meaning of Measures and the Measure of Meaning (Berghann Books). The book explores the divergent ways cultural difference, embodiment, and local knowledge impact understandings of obesity. Hardin’s work appeared in a wide range of academic journals, such as Medical Anthropology; Food, Culture, and Society; and Critical Public Health. Her new book, entitled Food, Fat, and Fitness: The Christian Ends of Medicalization is under review with Rutgers University Press.

The lecture is part of a 2-credit course titled "ANTH 324/524 Current topics in Medical Anthropology and Global Health” and the lectures are open to the public. For more information, contact the course coordinator, Marieke van Eijk (

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