Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2018

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/03/2020

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Giblin, James Leonard

First Committee Member

Cox, Jeffrey

Second Committee Member

Espinosa, Mariola

Third Committee Member

Sessions, Jennifer E.

Fourth Committee Member

Powers, Theodore


This dissertation examines the history of VaBocha experiences with Christianity. Historians have long assumed that Christian conversion was a static product. I show that conversion was an ongoing fluid process that churchgoers negotiated, contested, and appropriated to suit the Bocha social fabric. I demonstrate how existing social facts and sites of socialization shaped VaBocha understanding of Christianity. In doing so, I focus on the daily social practices to reveal how VaBocha reconciled the idioms of Christianity with their indigenous lifeways.

VaBocha made use of existing sites of socialization to make Christianity useful to their everyday life. These sites were social spaces were VaBocha articulated familial and kinship relations and learned the values, behavior, and skills fitting to Bocha society. By probing the relations occurring at the familial and communal level, the dissertation illustrates that the domestication of Christianity started in familial domestic spaces.

In the dissertation, I discuss the nuanced relationships that occurred between churchgoers and family members who were not churchgoers. The fact that Christianity never established hegemony over existing social facts and the ways of socialization which reproduced them meant that VaBocha churchgoers had to devise ways to balance the demands of Christianity against familial and communal obligations. I show why churchgoers became eclectic Christians who participated in both church and indigenous activities and beliefs, despite the fact that the churches condemned most of these indigenous practices. The dissertation shows that the pre-Christian ethics of tolerance of diversity allowed for Christian and indigenous practices to co-exist harmoniously.


Christianity, Daily practices, Diversity, Sites of Socialization, Social facts, Zimbabwe


xii, 193 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 181-193).


Copyright © 2018 Aldrin Tinashe Magaya

Available for download on Friday, July 03, 2020

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