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Teaching and Research Interests:

African ethnography and social history; gender and sexuality; medical anthropology; visual anthropology; ethnographic film; urban Africa; religion; Uganda, East Africa

Current Research:

Lydia Boyd is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in medical and visual anthropology. Since joining the Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies in the fall of 2010, her research has considered the interconnected effects of religious activism and global health policy on AIDS prevention and sexual and reproductive health in Uganda, East Africa. Her first book, Preaching Prevention: Born-Again Christianity and the Moral Politics of AIDS in Uganda (Ohio University Press, 2015), considers the impact of one of the U.S.’s largest global health programs to date – President’s Bush’s 2003 PEPFAR program — in terms of the cultural and moral logics which motivated the Ugandan Christian activists who popularized its HIV-prevention strategies (“abstain and be faithful”). 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. This research has expanded in recent years to consider other strands of social activism within the born-again community in Uganda, including a study that focused on the moral and cultural cosmologies that have animated the backlash against homosexuality and sexual rights in Uganda. As part of her fieldwork with Ugandan Christian youth, she has also researched and written about the growing popularity of Christian popular culture and other religious media in Kampala.

She has recently completed editing, with her colleague Emily Burrill, a volume on human rights in Africa. Legislating Gender and Sexuality in Africa: Human Rights, Society, and the State will be published in 2020 by the University of Wisconsin Press. Using sexual and gender-based rights as an analytic lens, this collection explores how contestations over gendered and sexual categories shed light on broader concerns over citizenship, moral personhood, economic change, and political agency in African communities today.

Her current research project focuses on issues relating to reproductive and maternal health in Uganda. Dr. Boyd is also a documentary filmmaker, and received a Certificate in Culture & Media from the interdisciplinary program in Media, Culture and History at New York University.


  • –present
    Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill