Morality, misfortune, modernity, medicine: Health and Evangelical Christianity in post-colonial Trinidad
In this talk, Rebecca Lynch will be presenting work from her recent book ‘The Devil is Disorder: Bodies, Spirits and Misfortune in a Trinidadian Village’. Join us for her talk and the Q&A afterwards. Registration is not necessary.
Joel Robbins has argued that anthropologists have overlooked and downplayed Christianity in their work. Might we, as medical anthropologists, have further compounded this by following biomedicine in separating medicine from religion?
In this talk, Rebecca explores the value of considering religious understandings and practices as central to their analysis, seeing these as dynamic and unfolding, constructing the body, health and illness in different ways, and with material effects on the sites we explore. Through an ethnography focusing on the everyday, she explores constructions of the body, health, illness and wider misfortune in a village in Trinidad where evangelical Christianity was growing in popularity.
Locating the village in historical and global context, she takes a nuanced cosmological approach to situate evangelical Christian understandings as shaping and being shaped by their context and, in the process, shaping individuals themselves. As people move from local to global subjects, health here stretches beyond being a matter of individual bodies and is connected to worldwide flows and networks, spirit entities, and expansive moral orders. With evangelical approaches to Christianity growing worldwide and changing people’s subjectivities, bodies, and understandings of life, anthropologists should acknowledge (bio)medicine and religion as fundamentally intertwined.
Rebecca Lynch is a Research Fellow in Medical Anthropology at King’s College London and an honorary Assistant Professor at LSHTM. Among other areas she has published on different sociocultural, moral and biomedical constructions of the body, health and illness. She is particularly interested categories and classification, including where morality, religion and values enter health and healthcare. She has worked in Trinidad and the UK and contributed to UK-based public health and health services projects. She has edited three books that seek to expand approaches to the body and health. Rebecca’s monograph on ‘The Devil is Disorder: Bodies, Spirits and Misfortune in a Trinidadian Village’, on which this talk is based, was published in 2020.
Please note that the time listed is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)