Theoretical reflections on the life world of Tanzanian street children


  • Markus Wiencke Free University, Berlin



In this article I reconstruct the life world (Lebenswelt) of the street children of the Tanzanian city Mwanza from an emic perspective that emphasises meaning-making, in order to depict them as subjects solely responsible for their actions. Accordingly I shall present how two youths conveyed to me, in numerous colour drawings, their everyday urban life, which is associated with their village history. Furthermore I will present some theoretical reflections on the "life world": I will explore the life world of the children and youths with reference to the construction and formation of identity. It thus becomes clear that even violent and materially difficult living conditions can generate collective identities. The term "street children", which is generally perceived as derogatory, receives a more positive connotation in this way. This is deepened by the description of the street children's relationships, which alternate between solidarity and conflict.

Author Biography

Markus Wiencke, Free University, Berlin

Markus Wiencke has a degree in psychology and a magister artium in social anthropology. He is a doctoral student at the Free University in Berlin, Germany. His current research focuses on the correlations between sociocentric settings and meaning-making for the treatment of mental illnesses. He has published two books, entitled Strassenkinder in Tansania: Ihre Lebenswelt in der Stadt Mwanza [Street children in Tanzania: Their life world in the city of Mwanza], and Wahnsinn als Besessenheit: Der Umgang mit psychisch Kranken in spiritistischen Zentren in Brasilien [Madness as possession: Dealing with mentally ill people in spiritistic centres in Brazil]. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at