Lydia Boyd

Assistant Professor, Department of African and African American Studies
PhD (Anthropology), New York University, 2010
204 Battle Hall

Research interests:
Health policy and international aid; sexuality and health; rights-based health activism; HIV/AIDS; personhood and morality; religion; evangelical Christianity; gender and generation in Africa; Uganda

Research activities:
My current study, which I began in Uganda in 2004, examines the promotion of sexual abstinence as an HIV/AIDS prevention strategy among born-again Christian youth in Kampala. 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. I am currently completing a book manuscript based on this research which analyzes the effects of the 2003 U.S. PEPFAR program in terms of the cultural and moral logics that motivated the Ugandan Christian activists who popularized its prevention strategies, and the effects such efforts had on program efficacy in the years following its implementation. The book tracks how the emergence of a new form of sexual subjectivity– one bolstered by economic and social changes in neoliberal urban society, as well as by the language of international development and health policies like PEPFAR–has emerged in conflict with other forms of ethical sexual conduct in contemporary Uganda. As part of my research with religious AIDS activists, I have also explored and written about the moral and cultural cosmologies which animated the recent backlash against homosexuality and sexual rights in Uganda, a controversy which culminated in the announcement of a proposed “Anti-Homosexuality” Bill in Uganda’s parliament in 2009 (which was reintroduced in 2012). Another project of mine, still in its early stages, will focus on issues relating to reproductive health in Uganda today. Future fieldwork will address several overlapping topics, including reproductive education, 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.

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