PhD research: Storytelling and young people coping with crisis. Oral narratives and crisis management in Kenya and Ethiopia

October 2022 to September 2027
oral narratives
crisis management
Jimma University (Ethiopia)
University of Nairobi (Kenya)
Research fields
Cultural Sciences
History and Archaeology

This project focuses on ‘Oral Literature for Development’ (OL4D) as a new line of thinking. We introduce OL4D firmly based on the belief that culture and creativity are central for all people’s development.

As a team, we see huge potential in the cultural-historical ways in which people have dealt with crisis situations through their history of literary expression, but at the same time we notice that many adolescents in Kenya and Ethiopia do not connect to this literary history when faced with crisis situations. Through performative learning procedures we aim at enabling young people to engage with living oral traditions of oral storytelling, thereby reflecting on the potentialities of crisis management in folktales and myths.

The overall aims of this project are:

  1. (re-)valuing the potential of popular storytelling in preventing and dealing with current crisis situations
  2. (re)connecting adolescent audiences with oral literatures
  3. developing an educational tool for an Oral Literature for Development-approach in narrative genres

We will focus on five domains in the narratives, namely:

  1. Gendered crisis situations
  2. Othering and exclusion
  3. Poverty
  4. Disease
  5. Ecological crisis

We view the practical and goal-oriented (re)connection with oral narrative genres as part of a decolonisation process, whereby academic and developmental models are opened up to include alternatives through indigenous epistemological models.