Dr Senzokuhle Doreen Setume

Catalyst Fellow
Dr Senzokuhle Doreen Setume

Catalyst Fellow, July 2021

Dr Senzokuhle Doreen Setume is a lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Botswana. She teaches courses such as African Indigenous Religions, Religions of Botswana, Religion and Science, and Research Methodology, and supervises students doing research.  Dr Setume has presented papers at local, regional and international conferences. She has published numerous journal articles and book chapters.  Dr Setume is currently carrying out a research project in which she explores how twin burial rituals impact on the process of grief for the surviving twin and their families. The project is funded by the University of Edinburgh under the Catalyst Fellowship.

Project Title: Cohabitation in Botswana: exploring questions of religion and adulthood

The main objective of this project is to explore questions of religion and adulthood. The project is a result of a 14-month ethnographic study where focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with relevant stakeholders were carried out.  The work questions the hypothetical central location of marriage in the study of intimate relationship: methodological nuptialism. The major findings are that in the context of Botswana the social constructions of adulthood perpetually feed into methodological nuptialism as well as the marginalisation of other statistically significant but non-marital unions, as they are neither socially acceptable nor recognised. This leads to general exclusion and inclusion into socially constructed ideas of 'ideal relationships' and adulthood. The study further concludes that with the arrival of Christianity, a process of (re-)negotiating what being religious is and what marriage is began. The project further reconnoitres the social construction of adulthood through contrasting legal and social identifications of adulthood and how these affect youth today. The work concludes that social institutions like parenthood or marriage have the power to create the kind of adulthood that a successful contemporary youth requires by complying with socially prescribed ways. The chapter demonstrates that youth then find themselves in perennial childhood due to socio-economic status that hinders their becoming adults. Therefore this project analyses how the relationship between Setswana culture and Christianity results in continued negotiations, navigation of what it is to be religious, married, an adult and independent in the context of rapid economic challenges and globalisation.

Key words: Cohabitation, religion, adulthood, social constructs, globalisation

This work is an extract from my PhD research which was fully sponsored by African Studies Centre, Leiden University, the Netherlands