Dr. Lance Laird is the assistant director of the Master of Science Program in Medical Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Practice in the Graduate Medical Sciences Division of Boston University School of Medicine and assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and in the Graduate Division of Religious Studies at Boston University. He became a Pluralism Project affiliate in 1999 while teaching comparative religion at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. After returning to Boston in 2004, he began conducting a number of projects related to Muslims, medicine, and healing under the auspices of the Boston Healing Landscape Project, directed by Dr. Linda Barnes. He conducted an informal baseline needs assessment for cultural competence training on caring for Muslims patients among staff at Boston Medical Center. With Linda Barnes and Justine deMarrais, he conducted an ethnographic content analysis of how Muslims and Islam are portrayed in medical literature abstracts. Dr. Laird has also completed three ethnographic projects, each of which examines how Muslims integrate Islam into healthcare decision making:
- “Muslim Patients and the Cultures of Healing in Boston,” funded by the Kenneth B. Schwartz Center. Dr. Laird and research assistant Siraad Yusuf, MD conducted 16 interviews with Muslim patients or their families, focused on illness and health care experiences, sensitivities, and perceived needs.
- “The Profession of Islam and the Health Care Profession in Boston,” funded by the American Academy of Religion, includes interviews with 11 Muslim healthcare providers, with a focus on vocation, the significance of Islamic heritage, and the integration of religious and professional identities in practice and in community leadership.
- “Muslim Community Based Health Organizations” (2008) was a collaborative research project with Dr. Wendy Cadge of Brandeis University. Funded by the Association of Muslim Health Professionals, this study aimed to record various institutional histories, best practices, and the integration of Muslim identity and public health practice, through examining the emergence of Muslim- initiated health clinics in four US cities.
Future research directions include studies on the impact of race, ethnicity, language, and immigration status on the healthcare needs and healing strategies of local Muslim groups; and studies on the cultural and religious construction of mental health in local Muslim communities.
Selected Links and Publications
- Faculty webpage: Dr. Lance Laird
- Report: “A Window Into American Muslim Physicians: Civic Engagement and Community Participation,” Wahiba Abu-Ras, Lance Laird, Farid Senzai, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (2012)
- Report: “Caring for Our Neighbors: How Muslim Community-Based Health Organizations are Bridging the Healthcare Gap in America,” Lance Laird and Wendy Cadge, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (2008)
- Chapter: “Religions of the Pacific Rim in the Pacific Northwest,” in Religion and Public Life in the Pacific Northwest: the “None” Zone, Patricia O’Connell Killen and Mark Silk, eds., Religion by Region Series, vol. 1. (Walnut Creek, CA: Alta Mira Press, 2004).