Manuela Kirberg

PhD Thesis (Working Title)Manuela Kirberg 2014
Narrare necesse est? Die narrative Existenz des Menschen im Spiegel ihrer Grenzen.
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Rose Marie Beck
Email: manuela.kirberg[at]

General Research Interests

Linguistic and philosophical anthropology, sociology of science and epistemology, narrative practices and theories, African orature, communication sociology and local knowledge production in Tanzania

Abstract PhD Project

The dissertation research examines within a transdisciplinary approach to which extent narrativity constitutes and shapes the human being and his/her lifeworld(s). In doing so it draws attention to the complex idea of the human as homo narrans, a story-telling animal, who has an urge to narrate, a capacity and a property that separates the human being from other living entities. The thesis aims to grasp multiple aspects of the human narrative existence, which incorporates both the narrative structures that shape the individual's world and narrative practices that constitute collectively shared realities. Narrations produce meaning(s) and enable understanding(s), thus narrating ought to be considered as a sense-making practice, as a continual process of interpretation and creation, trans-formation and re-casting or retention of the self, the society and the world with all its phenomena. By discussing the same, the analysis will not only to show how narrativity shapes and re-shapes our existence and epistemic cultures at various levels, but will especially highlight and examine the borderline areas, the liminal zones which underline the limitations of a narrative perspective on the world. This dissertation will thus discuss and explore the gaps in both the existing scientific literature and observable narrative practices at work. To grasp the idea of the homo narrans in its complexity and dynamic existence on a theoretical level, theories and approaches emerging from different disciplines ranging from philosophy, psychology and neuroscience to anthropology, praxeology and performance studies will be applied. In research practice a circular-reflexive approach will be used that analyses the impact of narrativity in a Tanzanian context (Sukuma) as well as the cultural context of the researcher similarly. This also includes the scientific practice of considering and situating the researcher as a homo narrans in the field, and goes as far as to ask to which extent academic practices are influenced by narrative structures.

Curriculum Vitae


Since 06/2010 | University of Leipzig, Dissertation: Narrare necesse est? The narrative existence of the human being. Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Rose Marie Beck

10/2004 - 06/2010 | University of Leipzig, Magistra Artium, Subjects: African Studies and Educational Science

Teaching and Related Experience

Since 06/2012 | Co-Editor of the Journal SWAHILI FORUM

Since 10/2010 | Research Assistant, University of Leipzig, Institute of African Studies, African Languages and Literatures

04/2009-02/2010 | Student Assistant, University of Leipzig, Institute of African Studies, African Languages and Literatures

Research Stays

02/2014-05/2014 | Evaluation research in Tanzania (Ntulya, Bagamoyo, Dar es Salaam)

01/2013-05/2013 | Research in Tanzania (Ntulya), data collection
03/2011-08/2011 | Explorative research in preparation for the PhD project in, Tanzania (Kwimba-District)
04/2009-06/2009 | Research in preparation for the master thesis in Tanzania (Mwanza, Ntulya) on Sukuma orature


2014 | Narrare necesse est: Der Mensch als homo narrans und die Signifikanz des Erzählens. In: Lutz Diegner, Raimund Kastenholz u. Uta Reuster-Jahn (eds.): Gedenkschrift für Thomas Geider. Köln: Köppe. (in press)
2014 | Repräsentationen von Tier-Mensch-Raum in ostafrikanischen Oraturen. In: Speitkamp, Winfried u. Stephanie Zehnle (eds.): Afrikanische Tierräume – Historische Verortungen. Köln: Köppe, pp. 25-41.