I am a cultural and medical anthropologist who is interested in how the intersection of medicine and religion shapes lived experiences of chronic illness. Focusing on metabolic disorders, my research bridges critical medical anthropology (on nutrition, fat, metabolic disorders) and the anthropology of Christianity (on the body, healing, denomination). As a result, both my research and teaching are committed to illuminating how structural inequalities operate in everyday life. I draw from feminist methodologies in my work and in the classroom to investigate how macro-level change influences everyday life.
My long-term fieldwork, conducted in Samoa from 2011 to 2012, supported by the Wenner Gren Foundation, built on over a year of preliminary research, and language training supported by a Fulbright-Hays grant, in the islands (Samoa and American Samoa) and diaspora (Hawai’i and California). My book project, which highlights several voices including health professionals, pastors and their families, healers, and Pentecostal individuals suffering with metabolic illness, offers a revision to scholarly understandings of the medicalization of food, fat, and fitness from the perspective of Pentecostal Christians in Samoa. I explore how they translate health risks associated with metabolic disorders into moral risks associated with living a good religious life.
I received my PhD in Anthropology from Brandeis University in 2014, and started as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Pacific University in 2015.