Menzfeld, Mira


Mira Menzfeld (*1988) studied cultural and social anthropology, philosophy, German language and literature.
She worked as a lecturer, fieldwork mentor and researcher (Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Cologne).
In her PhD research, 2013-2016, she focused on dying persons in Germany and South China (funded by German National Academic foundation). In participant observation, she explored the feelings and perspectives of persons in a biomedically diagnosed terminal condition. Furthermore, she proposed a framework for talking comparatively about dying in different cultures.
Mira Menzfeld is currently working on a postdoc project about self-images and identities of Salafis (Department of Islamic Studies, University of Cologne), and gives lectures at the Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology (Cologne). Together with Sabine Damir-Geilsdorf, she runs a side project about medical tourism from Arabic-speaking countries. She is an associated expert with the Cologne Center for Ethics, Rights, Economics and Social Sciences of Health (research group “Health Competences in Complex Environments”) since 2017. Additionally, she is an associate for an international cooperation project on ageing well (starting 2017, based at the University of Turku).


Research Interests

Anthropology of Dying; Moral Anthropology; Salafits; Health, Illness and Deviance; Medical Tourism


Research Area(s)

Germany; Switzerland; South China/Pearl River Delta; Arab-speaking countries



Monographs and Edited Volumes
Forthcoming 2017: “‘What it means to die.’ A participant observation with dying persons in Germany”. PhD Thesis: University of Cologne.

2014. (ed., together with Sabine Damir-Geilsdorf and Michaela Pelican): Islam und Sport: Einblicke in das interdisziplinäre Forschungs- und Lehrprojekt ‘Ethnographie vor der Haustür’ der Universität zu Köln” (Islam and sports: Insights into the interdisciplinary research and teaching project ‘Ethnography at home’ of the University of Cologne). Kölner Arbeitspapiere zur Ethnologie (Cologne Working Papers in Cultural and Social Anthropology), Vol. 5. Cologne: Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Cologne.

2012. “Pilgerreisen und Communitas nach V.W.Turner” (Pilgrimage and communitas according to V.W.Turner). München: GRIN.

Journal Articles

2017. “Who are ‘the’ Salafis? Insights into lifeworlds of persons connected to Salafis(m) in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany”. In: Journal of Muslims in Europe DOI 10.1163/22117954-12341337.

2016: “When the dying do not feel tabooed: Perspectives of the terminally ill in Western Germany”. In: Mortality DOI

2016. (together with Sabine Damir-Geilsdorf): “ ‘Looking at the life of the prophet and how he dealt with all these issues.’ Self-positioning, demarcations and belongingness of German salafis from an emic perspective”. In: Contemporary Islam [online, print issue to be assigned]. DOI 10.1007/s11562-016-0361-7.

Chapters in Edited Books

2014. “ ‘Ethnographie vor der Haustür’ – Konzeption und Durchführung” (‘Ethnography at home’ – conceptualization and implementation). In: Damir-Geilsdorf, Sabine, Menzfeld, Mira, and Michaela Pelican (eds.): Islam und Sport: Einblicke in das interdisziplinäre Forschungs- und Lehrprojekt ‘Ethnographie vor der Haustür’ der Universität zu Köln. Kölner Arbeitspapiere zur Ethnologie, Vol. 5. Cologne: Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Cologne, 5-6.


2014. Review of Filitz, Thomas and A. Jamie Saris (eds.). Debating Authenticity. Concepts of Modernity in Anthropological Perspective. New York, Oxford: Berghahn. In: Anthropological Notebooks XX (3): 129-130.


Conference Presentations

11/2017. Invited presentation about “Death and afterlife from an intercultural perspective” (Lübeck)

08/2017. Workshop “Suffering and loss during fieldwork” (Summer School “The Gendered Ethnographer”, Morphomata Centre for Advanced Studies, University of Cologne)
05/2017. Panel “Meanings of dying in different cultures” (Afrikatag Köln)

02/2017. Roundtable discussion participant (young scholar, sent by AG Medical Anthropology of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Völkerkunde) at the Trinat conference “Transfigurationen” of Swiss, Austrian and German Medical Anthropology (Basel)

05/2016. Presentation “Beginning of the End. Preexital and Postexital Dying Processes in the Pearl River Delta and in Germany” (AG Medical Anthropology of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Völkerkunde, Berlin)

03/2016. Presentation about “Dying processes, interculturally” (AWO Cologne)

12/2015-02/2016. Scientific advisor of the theatre and performance trilogy “Der unbekannte Nachbar” (the unknown neighbor), providing anthropological insights on dying by presentations and discussions (Cologne)

07/2015. Presentation on “Fieldwork with Salafis in North Rhine-Westphalia” (together with Sabine Damir-Geilsdorf). Working meeting of European Salafi researchers (Institut für Religionswissenschaft, University of Bremen)

06/2015. Workshop on “Death and dying, interculturally” (Afrika-Tag Cologne)
03-05/2015. Scientific advisor of an art project about “Death, dying and afterlife” (Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum Cologne)

11/2014. Presentation “Cultural models of dying”. Conference of PhD students funded by the German National Academic Foundation (Rastatt)

10/2014. Presentation “‘This makes my dying bearable’: Moral evaluations of dying by terminally ill people”. Conference “Images of Afterlife”: (Turku)