PhD Candidate

Dissertation Title: Intimate Rites: Localizing Queerness through Ancestral Spiritualities in Contemporary Zimbabwe


Raffaella Taylor-Seymour is a UK-US Fulbright Scholar and PhD Candidate in the Departments of Anthropology and Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. Her research and teaching interests include the politics of gender and sexuality, religion and spirituality, embodiment, subjectivity, social theory, and African Studies. Broadly, she is interested in the production of religious beliefs and practices, on the one hand, and changing cultural understandings about gender and sexuality, on the other. Her dissertation investigates these themes by examining 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. At the University of Chicago she has been awarded the Bernice Neugarten Award and the Orin Williams Fellowship, and her field research has been funded by the Center for International Social Science Research, Committee on African Studies, and the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights. 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.