Theatre & Dance ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-15-2019

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Gender, ritual and performance in the Shona cultures of Zimbabwe, are inexorably linked. They demonstrate how the flexibility of the Shona spiritual systems offers agency to ritual leaders and practitioners. The story of Murumbi Karivara, a Shona rainmaker from the 19th Century, provides the inspirational imagery for the researcher’s Masters of Fine Arts thesis concert DE RERUM NATURA - the way things are (performed on September 2 and 3, 2018). The researcher positions herself among contemporary Shona artists living in Zimbabwe and abroad who negotiate the spaces they occupy during ceremonies, on concert stages, and in institutions; to find autonomy through a variety of resistance practices and cultural performances. Additionally, this dissertation illustrates how the presence of black African performing artists, on concert stages and in academic institutions, dislodges age-old sexually and racially charged notions of Africanist dance practices, originated by the anthropological and historical accounts of colonizers and missionaries.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Theatre & Dance

First Committee Member (Chair)

Amanda Hamp

Second Committee Member

Donna Jewell

Third Committee Member

Dominika Laster

Fourth Committee Member

Jennifer Kyker




Gender, Ritual, Performance, African Dance, Shona Spiritual Systems, Zimbabwe

Document Type


ink-body-rain-program.pdf (1058 kB)
Program for De Rerum Natura: the way things are

inkbodyrain-monitor-vert.jpg (317 kB)
Poster for De Rerum Natura: the way things are

Available for download on Tuesday, May 11, 2021