Dr Laurie Denyer Willis
15-17 Tavistock Place
Laurie's research concerns the urban and political ecologies of health and disease in postcolonial landscapes. Her research explores animal-human relations (mostly mosquitos and pigs), sensory forms of knowledge (mostly smell and touch), and religious forms of care and hope (mostly Pentecostal).
Laurie completed her PhD in Medical Anthropology at McGill University and her Master of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 2017, Laurie was awarded the Margaret Lock Prize in Social Studies of Medicine for her dissertation, The Salvific Sensorium: Pentecostal Life in Rio de Janeiro’s Subúrbios, which is now in development as a book project.
Laurie's research has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), The Wellcome Trust, the Department for International Development (DFID), the International Development Research Council (IDRC), and the Paul and Priscilla Gray Foundation at MIT.
2018. It Smells Like 1,000 Angels Marching: The ‘salvific sensorium’ in Rio de Janeiro’s Western Subúrbios. Cultural Anthropology, 33(2):324-348. Open access here: https://culanth.org/articles/957-it-smells-like-a-thousand-angels-march…
2015 Allen, D., Badro, V., Denyer Willis, L., MacDonald, E., Pare, A., Hutchinson, T., Barre, P., Bocti, H., Broadbent, A., & Cohen S.R. Fragmented care and whole-person illness: Decision-making for people with chronic end-stage kidney disease. Chronic Illness, 11(1), 44-55.
As a medical anthropologist, Laurie is interested in the stakes of state absence and presence, by linking together sensory and environmental knowledge with experiences of disease, dispossession, and the politics of hope. Her newest project is concerned with antimicrobial resistance, urban livestock, and veterinary science.
Since 2006 Laurie has been doing ethnograhic fieldwork in Brazil, mostly in Rio de Janeiro's subúrbios. Her work concerns Pentecostalism, race, and public health, focusing on the ways that city form and meaning is reorganized by religious and sensorial ways of knowing. This work opens up space to think about health, life, and political subjectivity outside of linear state-citizen relations and vertical conceptions of centre and periphery.
Laurie has also been working in Cape Verde on a project on the Zika virus, interactive radio, and the ways that Big Data and Articifical Intelligence (AI) are put to work within global public health. This project was funded by the Wellcome Trust and DFID and conducted while Laurie was a Research Associate at the University of Cambridge in The Centre of Governance and Human Rights.