Lance 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. Dr. Laird is completing a study on the civic participation and professional identities of American Muslim physicians and a community-based study on the assets that predominantly Black Christian and Muslim congregations bring to neighborhood public health. He is interested in developing new projects on religious and cultural community assets for immigrant and refugee health.
Lance Laird CV