Pacific University Anthropologist Receives $10,000 Graves Award to Continue Research

Hardin SamoaPacific University Anthropology Assistant Professor Jessica Hardin is among a select group of scholars to have recently received a prestigious Graves Award in the Humanities.

Dr. Hardin received an award of $10,000 to support her research proposal, “Believing for toes: Faith, Care and Diabetes-related Amputations in Samoa.”

Hardin is a cultural and medical anthropologist who studies how medicine and religion shape lived experiences of chronic illness. Focusing on cardiometabolic disorders, her research bridges critical medical anthropology on nutrition, fat, and metabolic disorders, and the anthropology of Christianity.

Her proposal builds on prior research she conducted and published through her forthcoming first book, Faith and the Pursuit of Health: Cardiometabolic Disorders in Samoa (Rutgers University Press).

“My research to date explores how Pentecostal Christians associate the lived experience of cardiometabolic disorders with social suffering," she said. "Samoan Pentacostals see their individual symptoms of cardiometabolic disorders as manifestations of broader social and economic change."

Hardin will continue to explore how Samoans care for diabetes and related complications through everyday experiences that might not normally be associated with diabetes.

“By understanding the way Samoans seek care for many symptoms, this project can offer an alternative to the narratives of non-compliance so common among health practitioners,” she said.

Hardin will continue work with the same households and villages from her initial research period in Samoa from May through August. “In examining the ways symptoms relate to care choices and exploring how people care for their health outside clinical avenues, this project reframes diabetes management as care and will show how the disease is a community problem.”

Hardin will also use her research to teach a seminar at Pacific titled, “Religion and Health," which she expects to enrich student experiences and also provide a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary exploration and curriculum development throughout the university.

Administered by Pomona College under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies, the biennial Arnold L. Graves and Lois S. Graves Awards are made to faculty members under age 42, or those in their first decade of teaching, at private, non-denominational liberal arts colleges in California, Oregon and Washington. The awards encourage and reward outstanding accomplishment in actual teaching within the humanities by younger faculty members. Hardin joined Pacific University’s School of Social Sciences faculty in 2015.

Feb. 23, 2018