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Laurie Denyer Willis is a medical anthropologist at the University of Edinburgh, using sensory ethnographic methods to understand religious experience, right-wing populism, religious feminisms, and the politics of global health. 

Her first book, Go with God: Political Exhaustion and Evangelical Possibility in Suburban Brazil (University of California Press, 2023), grapples with the turn to Evangelicalism in Rio, and the kinds of conflicting promises, desires, deceptions and manipulations that go along with Evangelical faith and right-wing populist expansion in the city. 


For the past few years, Laurie has been working on a collaborative project with anthropologists in Kampala, Uganda and Bangkok, Thailand, through the project Antimicrobials In Society (AMIS) at LSHTM. For Laurie, this work has entailed a deepening understanding of the politics of irrationality that governs approaches to antibiotic access and use amidst broader global health concerns with antibiotic resistance (AMR). 

Laurie currently co-directs the Feminist Cities CoLab, funded by the British Academy, with a focus on contemporary feminist activism and urban violence in Latin America. 

You can get in touch at

Go with God: Political Exhaustion and Evangelical Possibility in Suburban Brazil 

University of California Press, Atelier Series 2023

Through deep attention to sense and feeling, Go with God grapples with the centrality of Evangelical faith in Rio de Janeiro's subúrbios, the city's expansive and sprawling peripheral communities. Based on sensory ethnographic fieldwork and attuned to religious desire and manipulation, this book shows how Evangelical belief has changed the way people understand their lives in relation to Brazil's history of violent racial differentiation and inequality. 


From expressions of otherworldly hope to political exhaustion, Go with God depicts Evangelical life as it is lived and explores where people turn to find grace, possibility, and a future.

"With its ethnographic sensibility, critical positionality, and sharp intellectual critique, Go with God makes us pause to reflect on the complicated terrain of domination and political agency in the dystopian urban margins of Rio de Janeiro's global city. In this meticulously crafted work, precarity, disenchantment, and frustration give room for 'graceful elaborations' of hope and collective care. Ethnography at its best!"


—Jaime Alves, University of California, Santa Barbara

"In Go with God, Laurie Denyer Willis takes us deep into the lifeworlds and grace-fueled dreams of Evangelicals in Brazil's subúrbios. With both ethnographic sensitivity and critical acumen, she helps us understand how believers forge something political out of what otherwise looks so personal and precarious. This is a bracing book, one that brings the literatures on faith, politics, and the state into distinctive configuration."

—Matthew Engelke, Columbia University 



Laurie Denyer Willis: Quote



Denyer Willis, Laurie, Kayendeke, Miriam & Clare Chandler. The Politics of Irrationality. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Online First, access here (open access). 


Denyer Willis, Laurie. Go with God: Political Exhaustion and Evangelical Possibility in Suburban Brazil. University of California Press. 


Nabirye, C., Denyer Willis, L., Nayiga, S., Kayendeke, M., Staedke, S. G., & Chandler, C. I. R. Antibiotic ‘entanglements’: health, labour and everyday life in an urban informal settlement in Kampala, Uganda. Critical Public Health, 33(1). Access here (open access). 


Kayendeke, M., Denyer Willis, L., Nayiga, S., Nabirye, C., Fortane, N., Staedke, S.G., & C.I.R. Chandler. Pharmaceuticalised Livelihoods: Antibiotics and the Rise of 'Quick Farming' in Peri-Urban Uganda. Journal of Biosocial Science. Online First. Access here (open access). 


Nayiga, S., Denyer Willis, L., Staedke, S & Chandler, C. I. R. Taking opportunities, Taking medicines: Antibiotic use in Rural Eastern Uganda. Medical Anthropology, 41(4). Access here (open access). 


Nayiga, S., Denyer Willis, L., Staedke, S & Chandler, C. I. R. Reconciling imperatives: Clinical guidelines, antibiotic prescribing and the enactment of good care in lower-level health facilities in Tororo, Uganda. Global Public Health, 17(12). Access here (open access). 



Dixon, Justin; MacPherson, Eleanor Elizabeth; Nayiga, Susan; Manyau, Salome; Nabirye, Christine; Kayendeke, Miriam; Sanudi, Esnart; Nkaombe, Alex;Mareke, Portia; Sitole, Kenny; de Lima Hutchison, Coll; Bradley, John; Yeung, Shunmay; Ferrand, Rashida Abbas; Lal, Sham; Roberts, Chrissy; Green, Edward; Denyer Willis, Laurie; Staedke, Sarah G; Chandler, Clare IR. Antibiotic stories: a mixed-methods, multi-country analysis of household antibiotic use in Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe. BMJ Global Health, 6 (11). Access here (open access). 



Denyer Willis, Laurie. In Attention to Pain: Governance and Bodies in Brazil. Medical Anthropology, 39(4). Access here



Hyde, Sandra and Laurie Denyer Willis. Introduction to a Special Issue: Balancing the Quotidian: Precarity, Care and Pace in Anthropology’s Storytelling. Medical Anthropology, 39(4). Access here (open access). 



Nayiga, S., Kayendeke, M., Nabirye, C., Denyer Willis, L., Chandler, C. I. R., & Staedke, S. Use of antibiotics to treat humans and animals in Uganda: a cross-sectional survey of households and farmers in rural, urban and peri-urban settings. Journal of Antimicrobial Resistance, 2(4). Access here (open access). 


Denyer Willis, Laurie. The File Story: A Multimodal Experiment in Sensory Ethnographic Writing on Sexual Violence. ‘Con-text-ure: Visual and New Media Review Series’, Cultural Anthropology. Access here (open access). 



Denyer Willis, Laurie and Clare Chandler. Quick fix for care, productivity, hygiene and inequality: Reframing the entrenched problem of antibiotic overuse. The BMJ (Global Health), 4(4). Access here (open access). 



Dixon J, MacPherson E, Manyau S, Nayiga S, Khine Zaw Y, Kayendeke M, Nabirye C, Denyer Willis L, de Lima Hutchison C, Chandler CIR. The ‘Drug Bag’ method: Lessons from anthropological studies of antibiotic use in Africa and South-East Asia. Global Health Action, 12(1). Access here (open access). 



Denyer Willis, Laurie. It Smells Like 1,000 Angels Marching: The ‘salvific sensorium’ in Rio de Janeiro’s Western Subúrbios. Cultural Anthropology, 33(2). Access here (open access). 

Laurie Denyer Willis: About
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