Jessica Hardin: Salvation and Metabolism-Cardiometabolic Disorders in Samoa

Public Lecture by Jessica Hardin, Assistant Professor at Pacific University. 

Rates of cardiometabolic disorders have been rising since the 1950s across Oceania. In Samoa, obesity, diabetes, hypertension rates range from 40% to 50% of the population. At the same time, Pentecostal Christian churches began to grow across Samoa as well. Based on fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork, this talk will explore how salvational and metabolic logics have become entwined across clinics, churches and households. Pentecostal faith practices position the body as an intermediary space where people can come to know God as the body provides evidence of that relationship. The body’s fluctuations mirror fluctuations in faith, and for Pentecostals faith is something that is always challenged by external (and often considered evil) forces. This flux in the body follows a logic of metabolism, where bodily flux reflects the increasingly unpredictable embodied processes related to food consumption. Samoan Pentecostals thus decussated fluctuations in “sugar” (blood glucose) and “blood” (high or low blood pressure) as reflections of emotional states, depression, anger, stress. Faith and metabolism interconnected in everyday practice as they both provided novel frameworks from which to understand environmental change—in food, land use, labor—revealing their similarities as (biomedical and religious) metaphors for situating the body in context. For examples, I will talk about conversion, narrative and healing practices as articulations of the interrelatedness of salvational and metabolic logics. To conclude, I will offer some reflections on the temporal dynamics that articulate the similarities of these logics, and introduce future research more specifically focused on this theme.

Watch the lecture live through Zoom Meetings. Meeting will open day of the lecture at 3:30pm. 



ENR2 Room S-215
1064 E. Lowell St.
United States
Tuesday, March 26, 2019 - 16:00
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences