Dr Laurie Denyer Willis

PhD, MSc

Research Fellow

15-17 Tavistock Place
United Kingdom

Laurie Denyer Willis is a medical anthropologist in the Anti-Microbials in Society (AMIS) Hub (, and co-editor of the AMIS online platform, 

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). Her first book project, “The Salvific Sensorium: Pentecostal Life in Suburban Rio de Janeiro”, has been selected by the University of California Press as a finalist in the new series, Atelier: Ethnographic Inquiry in the Twenty-First Century. 

Laurie completed her PhD in Medical Anthropology at McGill University and her Master of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 2018, her PhD dissertation was awarded the Margaret Lock Prize in Social Studies of Medicine and the Latin Amercian Studies Association (Brazil Section) Best Dissertation Award. 

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. 

Journal Publications: 

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:… 

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. 






Department of Global Health and Development


Antimicrobial Resistance Centre


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. 

Research Area
Social and structural determinants of health
Cape Verde
Latin America & Caribbean (all income levels)
Sub-Saharan Africa (all income levels)