Embedded Narratives: Metabolic Disorders and Pentecostal Conversion in Samoa

Drawing from interviews and participant observation, this article explores the intersection of diagnosis of metabolic disorders and religious conversion among Pentecostal Christians in Samoa by analyzing what I call embedded narratives––conversion narratives embedded in illness narratives. Drawing from ethnographic data, I examine how using conversion narrative conventions enabled those living with metabolic disorders to narrate behavior change in a culturally and socially valorized way. By embedding their narratives, I suggest those living with metabolic disorders shifted the object of care from a disease process toward the creation of a religious life and in turn transformed the risks associated with metabolic disorders, including diet, exercise, and pharmaceutical use into moral risks associated with everyday religious life. In these cases, Pentecostal conversion created possible scripts for changing health practices, managing stress, and shifting resource use in the name of religious commitment, providing insights into how self‐care can be an expression of religious practice.

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