Field Research Grants
Raffaella Taylor-Seymour, CHD
My pre-dissertation research explores negotiations surrounding fertility, sexuality, and ancestry in contemporary Zimbabwe. In light of the country’s history of settler colonialism and recent economic, social, and political crises, I investigate how young Zimbabweans are reconceiving the life course and reimagining disrupted futures. In particular, I examine how Pentecostal teachings and practices enable the reimagining of traditional conceptions of personhood. One strand of my research takes up these issues in relation to the experiences of queer Zimbabweans in Pentecostal churches. Over the past decade, the predicament of queer Africans has increasingly made global headlines, related in part to the global expansion of Pentecostal Christianity. However, many queer Zimbabweans are active and ardent members of Pentecostal churches who practice their faith, socialize, and pray in the very institutions that appear to propagate their oppression. My project seeks to explore ethnographically why queer Zimbabweans find Pentecostalism an appealing branch of Christianity, and how they reconcile their sexual identities with their churches’ teachings.
Raffaella Taylor-Seymour is a UK-US Fulbright Scholar and PhD Candidate in the Departments of Anthropology and Comparative Human Development. Her dissertation investigates how young people in Zimbabwe are developing new expressions of queerness through the reinvention of spiritual practices involving ancestors. Raffaella is the recipient of the Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, the Association for Feminist Anthropology's Dissertation Award, the Association for the Sociology of Religion’s Joseph H. Fichter Award, and the Robert Lemelson Foundation Fellowship. She received her undergraduate degree in Archaeology & Anthropology from King’s College, Cambridge, and received the inaugural Fulbright-Diamond Family Foundation Award for research in Africa in support of her doctoral studies.