Dr. Robert Lorway - Biography
Research and teaching interests: medical anthropology; critical global health studies; health activism and social movements; sexuality, gender and geography; social studies of science, medicine and technology; HIV prevention science
Robert Lorway is a medical anthropologist and an associate professor in the Centre for Global Public Health, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, College of Medicine. He currently holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Intervention Politics and Social Transformation, and between 2009 and 2014 he held a CIHR New Investigator award in HIV services/population health research. His research is concerned with the social study of global health interventions, particularly those that are designed to improve the lives of marginalized populations in Africa and Asia. Theoretically his work attempts to understand how contemporary global health interventions enact forms of governance that shape new modalities of citizenship and ‘make up’ communities and subjectivities for health service delivery schemes. At the same time, he grapples with the concrete public health implications of these emergent forms of sociality. Robert’s theoretical engagements are firmly rooted in collaborative public health projects conducted with members of community-based organizations in Namibia, Kenya, China, and India.
Robert’s first book, Namibia’s Rainbow Project: Gay Right in an African Nation, published by Indiana University Press (2014), reveals the long-term effects of a sexual minority rights program that inadvertently subjugated the community of youth that it aimed to liberate. In his second book, AIDS Activism, Science and Community across Three Continents (Springer 2017), he examines how particular evidentiary regimes spark new activist political formations by drawing upon the findings from an array of participatory research projects conducted over a 22-year period, in Canada, India and Kenya. This book illuminates the ways in which community outreach practices and notions of empowerment, advocacy and social justice are increasingly becoming entangled in biomedical and market-oriented logics.
Robert is currently engaged in two new major research projects. In the first project (2014-2018), funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grants Program, as the principal investigator (with co-investigator Shamshad Khan) he is reconstructing the life history of the Gates-funded HIV Initiative in India known as Avahan and exploring the legacy of philanthrocapitalist discourses on social movements led by sexual minorities. The second project (2016-2021) is being conducted in Dnipropetrovsk (DNK), 200km from the conflict zone in the eastern region of Ukraine. As a Co-PI with Marissa Becker (Nominated PI), Robert leads the qualitative social scientific component of this project scheme grant funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)—a project that explores how the conflict shapes the daily lives of female sex workers and their vulnerability to HIV/STIs/HCV.