Linda L. Barnes

Dr. Linda L. Barnes (born 1953) is an American medical anthropologist, an Associate Professor in the Departments of Family Medicine and Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine, and a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her research specialty is religious history and the social history of Western responses to Chinese healing traditions.


Dr. Barnes received her BA in American Studies from Smith College, her Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in Comparative religion and the allied field of Medical anthropology.

Mentored by religious historian John B. Carman, Chinese religion scholar Tu Weiming, and medical anthropologist Arthur Kleinman, her early ethnographic work centered on Chinese healing practices in the United States, particularly Boston. Her subsequent research explores the relationship between culture, religion and spirituality, and complementary and alternative medicines.

Since 1999, Dr. Barnes has been a member of the faculty of Boston University School of Medicine, where she founded and directs an urban ethnographic program—the Boston Healing Landscape Project (BHLP), an institute for the study of religions, medicines, and healing funded by the Ford Foundation. The BHLP’s research focuses on complementary and alternative medicine among the culturally complex patient communities in the Boston area.

Academic work

Dr. Barnes has published her ethnographic work in leading medical anthropology journals such as "Culture, Medicine & Psychiatry," "Medical Anthropology", "Medical Anthropology Quarterly," and "Social Science & Medicine." Her historical scholarship appears in her book "Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts: China, Healing, and the West to 1848" (Harvard University Press, 2005). This anthropologically influenced social history examines how understandings of medicine, religion, race, and the body informed how Westerners in both Europe and later the U.S. understood and responded to the Chinese and their healing traditions from the thirteenth century through 1848. She is currently writing a book addressing Chinese medicine and healing traditions in the United States, from 1849on She founded and co-chairs the program unit “Religions, Medicines, and Healing,” in the American Academy of Religion (AAR). She co-edited Religion and Healing in America with Dr. Susan S. Sered (Oxford University Press, 2005). She co-edits a series on religion and healing for Praeger Press, a division of Greenwood. She is currently the Regional Director of the New England/Maritimes Region of the AAR and, as such, has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the AAR since 2002.

For ten years, Dr. Barnes also served as the consultant to faculty-development workshops, sponsored by the AAR and funded by the Lilly Endowment, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, for faculty in the study of religion. In addition to her teaching at BUSM, she has taught courses on religiously grounded healing traditions at Harvard University, Harvard Divinity School, Brown University, and Northeastern University, and has received multiple teaching awards for her work with students.


Books written

*"Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts: China, Healing and the West to 1848". Harvard University Press, 2005.
*"Variations on a Teaching/Learning Workshop: Pedagogy and Faculty Development in Religious Studies". Scholars Press, 1999.

Books edited

*"Teaching Religion and Healing". Ed. Linda L. Barnes and Inés Talamántez. Oxford University Press, 2006.
*"Religion and Healing In America". Ed. Linda L. Barnes and Susan S. Sered. Oxford University Press, 2004.

Peer-reviewed Articles

*“American Acupuncture and Efficacy: Meanings and Their Points of Insertion.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 19.3 (2005): 239-266.
*____, et al. “Integrating Complementary and Alternative Medicine into Pediatric Training.” Pediatric Annals 33.4 (2004): 257-263.
*____, and Joan Martin. “Introduction: Religion and Empire.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 71.1 (2003): 3-12.
*“The Acupuncture Wars: The Professionalizing of American Acupuncture – A View from Massachusetts.” Medical Anthropology 22.3 (2003): 261-301.
*____, and Gregory A. Plotnikoff. “Fadiman and Beyond: The Dangers of Extrapolation.” Bioethics Forum 17.1 (2001): 32-40.
*____, and Grove Harris. “Religious Pluralism and Culturally Competent Care.” The Park Ridge Center Bulletin November/December (2001): 7-8.
*____, et al. “Spirituality, Religion and Pediatrics: Intersecting Worlds of Healing.” Pediatrics 106.4 (2000): 899-908.
*“The Psychologizing of Chinese Healing Practices in the United States.” Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 22.4 (1998): 413-443.

She has also published chapters in a number of books and collected works.

External links

* [ Boston Healing Landscape Project]

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