Barnes, Linda L. 1953-

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Barnes, Linda L. 1953-


Born January 15, 1953; married. Education: Smith College, B.A., 1974; Harvard Divinity School, M.T.S. 1983; Harvard University, M.A., 1985, Ph.D., 1996. Also attended the University of Puerto Rico, 1977-78.


Home—Cambridge, MA. Office—Department of Family Medicine, Boston University Med- ical Center, Dowling 5, 1 Boston Medical Center Pl., Boston, MA 02118. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]


Medical anthropologist, educator, writer, and editor. Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA, director of Spirituality and Child Health Initiative, 1999—; Boston University, Boston, MA, Department of Pediatrics, The Boston Healing Landscape Project, director, 2000—, School of Public Health, assistant professor, 2002—, School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, assistant professor, 1999-2004, associate professor, 2005—, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, associate professor, 2005—, Department of Family Medicine, associate professor, 2006—. Recipient of visiting professorships, including Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, visiting lecturer, 1996, senior thesis advisor, 1999-2004; Northeastern University, Boston, MA, visiting scholar, 1996-98; Brown University, Providence, RI, visiting assistant professor, 1998-99; Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA, visiting lecturer, 1999; Wake Forest University, North Carolina, visiting professor, 2004. Has served on numerous advisory boards and panels.


American Academy of Religion (program liaison, New England/Maritimes Region, 1997-98, member of board of directors, 2002—), Ambulatory Pediatric Association, American Anthropology Association, Society for the Anthropology of Religion.


Variations on a Teaching/Learning Workshop: Pedagogy and Faculty Development in Religious Studies, Scholars Press (Atlanta, GA), 1999.

(Editor, with Susan S. Sered) Religion and Healing in America, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts: China, Healing, and the West to 1848, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

(Editor, with Ines Talamantez, and author of introduction) Teaching Religion and Healing, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to books, including Tracing Common Themes: Comparative Courses in the Study of Religion, edited by John B. Carman and Steven P. Hopkins, Scholars Press, 1991; Religious Healing in Boston: First Findings, edited by Susan Sered and Linda L. Barnes, Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University, 2001; Encyclopedia of Religion and Culture in the United States, edited by Gary Laderman and Luis León, ABC-CLIO Press, 2003; and Developmental Disabilities: Delivery of Medical Care for Children and Adults, 2nd edition, edited by I. Leslie Rubin and Allen C. Crocker, Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., 2006. Coeditor of book series "Religion and Healing," Praeger Publishers, Greenwood Publishing Group (Westport, CT); director and editor, Boston Healing Landscape Project Web site, 2001—.

Contributor to professional journals, including Medicine and Psychiatry, Journal of the Ambulatory Pediatric Association, Annals of Internal Medicine, Bioethics, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Clinical Pediatrics, Medical Anthropology, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, and Pediatric Annals. Ad hoc journal reviewer for Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 1997; Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, 1997; Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, 1997; Social Science and Medicine, 2000—; Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 2001—; Pediatrics, 2001—; Journal of Family Medicine, 2005; and Archives of Disease in Childhood, 2006—.


Linda L. Barnes is a medical anthropologist and a scholar of world religions. Her primary research and teaching interests focus on the intersections of culture, religion, and spirituality. She also is interested in complementary and alternative therapies and how Western societies of the past responded to Chinese healing traditions. According to a profile of the author on Boston University's Web site, Barnes "is committed to including an understanding of the healing practices of culturally complex patient populations in the training of clinicians, and to helping clinicians better understand how religious worldviews play a part in patient and family understandings of illness and healing."

In Religion and Healing in America, Barnes and coeditor Susan S. Sered present a series of essays by scholars from a wide variety of disciplines who explore the idea and practice of religious healing in various U.S. communities of different cultural backgrounds. Among the types of religious healers exam- ined are Cuban santeros and Haitian mambos. The book also presents the healing practices of Cambodian Buddhist priests, Hmong shamans, and Chinese herbalists and acupuncturists. Divided into five sections, the book's first section, "Sites of Healing: Domestic Spaces, Public Spaces," looks at the role that location plays in healing traditions. Section two, "Healing from Structural Violence: La Cutura Cura," examines how healing occurs in communities that have suffered structural violence, while the third section, "Gendering of Suffering and Healing," includes case studies of how suffering is gendered, including studies of Navajo women healers and African American women's healing. The book's fourth section, "Synergy, Syncretism, and Appropriation," examines how syncretism (the attempt to reconcile disparate or contradictory beliefs) and appropriation work within multicultural contexts, such as American Buddhism. Section five, "Intersections with Medical and Psychotherapeutic Discourses," explores religious healing within modern medical contexts, including biomedicine.

"Overall, this book is essential reading for scholars interested in the religious diversity of North America, religion and healing, religion and the immigrant experience, religion and colonialism, ritual studies, and medical anthropology," wrote Suzanne J. Crawford in the Journal of Church and State. "Its greatest strength lies in the eclectic diversity of its essays, written by some of the most influential scholars in the field." James Opp, writing a review for Church History, noted: "Fortunately, most of the authors in this volume avoid the pitfalls of essentialism, and whether implicitly related in ethnographic detail or explicitly drawn out in a broader analysis, spiritual healing is situated as a distinctly cultural experience shaped by ethnicity, race, gender, class, and other competing social and political concerns."

In Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts: China, Healing, and the West to 1848, Barnes examines the history of European and North American interpretations of Chinese understandings of illness and healing. In the process, the author addresses issues such as when the western continents first learned about Chinese healing traditions and how Chinese acupuncture was "rediscovered" in the West in the 1970s.

"When I began this study, I had no idea how much information about Chinese healing traditions had entered the West between the thirteenth and nineteenth centuries," the author writes in the book's conclusion. "I presume the same holds true for many readers. Although the volume of information was slim when compared with our own time, the content was far more comprehensive than we credit. Not to exaggerate, however: As I noted in the introduction, few readers had access to the full range of what was disseminated, making this current work both artificially systematic and unprecedented."

Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts takes readers back to the thirteenth century to reveal what historians know of the West's first discoveries of how the Chinese perceived illness and how to heal health problems. The author discusses how Western Europeans tried to comprehend a people they knew little about and how they tried to understand concepts of health and healing that were foreign in every sense of the word. The author takes the reader through the mid-nineteenth century in Europe and the United States as she describes how various people from the West, from missionaries and merchants to diplomats and physicians, encountered and interpreted both the Chinese people and the various healing practices of their culture. She also explores how various aspects of these practices were adopted.

Referring to Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts as "insightful and richly documented," Church History contributor Michael C. Lazich wrote: "This book is … of essential value to anyone interested in exploring the fascinating history of the West's encounter with, and conceptualization of, Chinese civilization."

Barnes is also coeditor, with Ines Talamantez, of Teaching Religion and Healing. The book presents essays by leading experts from several disciplines who examine the role of healing in various religions and cultural communities. The volume is designed to help college instructors in various fields—from anthropology and sociology to religious, ethnic, and American studies—incorporate discussions of healing into their courses. The editors also hope to foster the idea of developing more extensive courses that focus on religion and healing.

"Within the last several years, a number of American medical schools have offered elective courses on ‘medicine and spirituality,’" the author writes in the book's introduction. Barnes further notes: "In general, however, such courses focus on the health-outcomes literature and treat ‘spirituality’ as a generic term—again, much as occurs in popular culture. Such courses do not usually address issues of race or class, and culture is often relegated to a single session, presented together with religious pluralism." Barnes also explains the book's overall approach, writing: "This book brings together a collection of different ways of conceptualizing and teaching about religion and healing" and "proposes examples of alternative ways of teaching such issues to health care providers and other caregivers."



Barnes, Linda L., Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts: China, Healing, and the West to 1848, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

Barnes, Linda L., and Ines Talamantez, editors, Teaching Religion and Healing, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2006.


Asian Affairs, November, 2007, Lars Laamann, review of Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts: China, Healing, and the West to 1848, p. 428.

Church History, March, 2006, James Opp, review of Religion and Healing in America, p. 230; June, 2007, Michael C. Lazich, review of Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts, p. 472.

Isis, March, 2007, Charlotte Furth, review of Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts, p. 161.

Journal of the American Academy of Religion, June, 2000, Patricia O'Connell Killen, review of Variations on a Teaching/Learning Workshop: Pedagogy and Faculty Development in Religious Studies, p. 389.

Journal of Church and State, winter, 2007, Suzanne J. Crawford, review of Religion and Healing in America, p. 154.

Library Journal, September 15, 1991, Del Cain, review of Dynamic Stillness, Volume 2: The Fulfillment of Trika Yoga, p. 84.

Reference & Research Book News, August 1, 1999, review of Variations on a Teaching/Learning Workshop, p. 9.


Boston Healing Landscape Project Web site, (July 10, 2008), faculty profile of author.

Boston University, Asian Studies Web site (July 10, 2008), faculty profile of author.

Boston University Family Medicine Department Web site, (July 10, 2008), faculty profile of author.

Oxford University Press Web site, (July 10, 2008), brief profile of author.

Resources for American Christianity, (July 11, 2008), overview of Variations on a Teaching/Learning Workshop.

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Barnes, Linda L. 1953-

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