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Interpretation of unexamined African narratives from the collections of the Frobenius Institute

Project leader: Prof Karl-Heinz Kohl; researcher: Dr Sabine Dinslage

Period of research: 1 June 2005 to 31 May 2008

On his voyage to southern Africa in 1928-30, Leo Frobenius collected a total of 436 stories. The object of the project is the processing of these handwritten texts on notepads, which for the most part have not yet been published.

In closely examining the textual manuscripts, together with Frobenius's personal comments and diary sketches, the project aims to document and analyse the individual stories in accordance with a unitary scheme and to provide them with a summary in English through a systematic processing of the available materials.

This type of documentation and analysis makes it possible for international scholars to access Frobenius's stories, until now unpublished or only occasionally published in German, in a clear and user-friendly form. The processed analytical data will be made available in a digital databank. In particular, the indigenous population will have access to historical documents and the oral heritage of their own culture.

Publication of all these stories in their original form, provided with English summaries and extensive analytical data, is scheduled for 2010 under the title "Animal husbands, magic horns and water spirits: folktales from southern Africa collected by Leo Frobenius".