Lance D. Laird, M.Div, Th.D
Lance Laird is 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. He is Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and in the Graduate Division of Religious Studies
Dr. Laird received his BA in 1986 in religious studies, with a focus on Islam, from the University of Virginia. He studied theology at Baptist seminaries in Kentucky and Switzerland, earning an MDiv in 1989. Dr. Laird completed his ThD in comparative religion at the Harvard Divinity School in 1998. His dissertation, “Martyrs, Heroes and Saints: Shared Symbols of Muslims and Christians in Contemporary Palestinian Society,” examined Christian-Muslim relations and nationalism through ethnographic fieldwork in Bethlehem.
Joining the faculty of Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA in 1998, Dr. Laird taught in a variety of interdisciplinary programs for five years, becoming a tenured member of the faculty in the process. He integrated his graduate preparation in Qur’anic studies, Sufism, modern Islamic political thought, Christian theologies of religion, history of Israel/Palestine, and theory and method in the study of religion into team-taught and individual courses.
Dr. Laird returned to Boston in 2004, when his wife was called to assume the pastorate of a local congregation. That year, he joined the Boston Healing Landscape Project as a Senior Consultant, leading an initiative involving ethnographic study of cultural and medical pluralism within the Muslim communities of Boston, through the lens of illness experiences and healthcare practices. As part of the BHLP team, he has also taught medical students, residents, and faculty. Dr. Laird completed a Fellowship in General Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and joined the faculty of Family Medicine in 2008. He has also worked with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Church Council of Greater Seattle on interfaith dialogue and research efforts as well as with the Pluralism Project at Harvard University. He lives in Jamaica Plain with his wife and three children.
Dr. Laird’s research at Boston University has focused on multiple intersections of Muslim identity with healing professions and public health in the US. His early research on shared symbols of Muslims and Christians in Bethlehem set forth a research agenda on the “dialogue of life.” He employs a “lived religion” and ethnographic approach, and draws on theories of racialization, social suffering, and identity formation. While continuing to write on Christian-Muslim relations in theological circles, he has published articles on how Muslims are represented in medical literature, the emergence of Muslim free clinics, and chaplaincy for Muslim patients; the civic participation and professional identities of American Muslim physicians; the assets that predominantly Black Christian and Muslim congregations bring to neighborhood public health; and cultural aspects of Somali oral health.
Dr. Laird is currently an organizer with the Greater Boston Muslim Health Initiative, studying networks of faith and health that affect local Muslims; and conducting research on healthcare access for Muslim women who have experienced domestic violence. He is also collaborating with family medicine faculty in qualitative studies of integrative medicine group visits and virtual group health promotion. Dr. Laird is interested in developing new projects on religious and cultural community assets for immigrant and refugee health. He is directing the 2015 Boston University Religion Fellows Seminar on “Multiple Interdisciplinary Approaches to Religions, Health and Healing in Global and Local Contexts” with Dr. Mary Elizabeth Moore, Dean of the School of Theology.