Category Archives: Conference

Where were the anthropologists? Report on the 9th International Symposium on Cultural Gerontology

One of the most surprising moments of the 9th International Symposium on Cultural Gerontology (also the first ENAS/NANAS Joint Conference and the 3rd ENAS Conference) was when Plenary Panelist Stephen Katz asked the audience members to hold up a hand if they had a degree in ‘Gerontology’. I twisted in my seat to get a better look across the crowd but I only saw about a half-dozen hesitant arms poking out of the full lecture hall. The point Katz was making was that ‘cultural gerontology’ remains an assemblage of different discipline-based concepts and methodologies. Even after all these years, the infrastructure hasn’t emerged that could establish the key concerns, questions and concepts that social science and humanities scholars call ‘gerontology’. Continue reading

Register today for the 10th Biennial Conference in Oxford!

Elders crossing sign in Oxford

Thank you to all of those who have taken the time to register for our conference in Oxford (8-9 June, 2017). If you haven’t already registered, you can do so here.

In order to put together our program in a timely manner, we ask that all of those with accepted papers register before April 1. You can still register after this date, but refunds will no longer be available. NOTE: Those who register too close to the conference risk not being listed in the conference program!

AAGE and ACYIG members get big discounts, so it may be worth signing up for a membership while you are at it! Of course, those not presenting a paper are welcome to register and come along.

In keeping with the theme of connecting anthropology from across the life course, there will be two workshops held on 8 June afternoon. One will be organized by the Young Lives team, who will introduce their large-scale multi-country research project coordinated by the Department of International Development, University of Oxford. Another will be organized by the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, and will showcase their work combining a wide range of research and policy oriented work. Both of these are excellent opportunities for students to become more informed about the kind of research paths available. We’ll be posting more information on all of that very soon, so keep checking in!

Register now for the conference

Find out more about the conference

Discuss  the conference with other AAGE members


AAGE at SfAA 2017

The 2017 Society for Applied Anthropology meetings are fast approaching (March 28- April 1), and, as always, AAGE members will not only be presenting work, but hosting a networking breakfast event for members, students, and anyone interested in learning more about us.

Thank you to Iveris Martinez for compiling this list of relevant sessions at this year’s conference. Continue reading

AAGE at #GSA2016: program highlights

lensonagingEvery few years, the Gerontological Society of America and the American Anthropological Association are scheduled for the exact same dates, and we have to make a difficult choice. A small contingent of anthropologists will be representing AAGE this year at #GSA2016, including Iveris Martinez who ends her tenure as President (but luckily stays around in our executive board as past president). Here you can find more information about our AAGE social events, business meeting and presentations by members. Continue reading

AAGE at #AAA2016! How to get involved in Minneapolis this November


The AAA meeting is massive. This year, thousands of anthropologists will descend on the “City of Lakes” for the four days of talks, meetings, workshops, and events, and once again, AAGE is there to help you find the most exciting panels on aging and the life course. The guide below contains links to the AAA program so that registered members can add them to the personal scheduler. There are also links to the AAGE/ Anthropology of Aging and the Life Course Interest Group meeting (Friday, 18 November 12:15PM-1:30PM) and  the AALIG special interlocutor session with Margaret Lock in conversation with Jay Sokolovsky and Athena McLean (Saturday 19 November 12:15PM-1:30PM). If we missed your panel/paper/poster or event, let us know. See you in Minneapolis!

*Please note that since the original post, room assignment are no longer listed on the online program and the rooms listed here may be incorrect. Best to check in closer to the conference!

Continue reading

AAGE at #EASA2016

EASA 2016 was hosted by Univ. of Milano-Bicocca. (Photo: D'uomo, by Jason Danely)

The magnifient Duomo in central Milan. EASA 2016 was hosted by University of Milan, Bicocca

This was my first time attending the biennial meeting of the European Association of Social Anthropology, and with over 130 panels, laboratories, films screenings and events and some 1700 attendees from across Europe and the world, it didn’t fail to disappoint. It had all the breadth and excitement of the AAA meetings, but on a more modest scale that facilitated the kinds of interactions you get at smaller meetings of only a few hundred attendees. The meeting was hosted by the Department of Human Sciences and Education ‘Ricardo Massa’ and the Department of Sociology and Social Research at the University of Milano-Bicocca. Not as flashy as a convention centre or hotel (the book exhibit consisted of about ten tables set up in a corridor), but I have to say the organization and technical support was outstanding. Aside from a mostly comical issue with a live feed during the opening plenary with Didier Fassin, everything seemed to run well (see Allegra Lab’s blog for an interesting take on Fassin’s talk). Which is very good news indeed when you are dashing between sessions trying to catch all the panels that you can!

As with most anthropology conferences, I didn’t get to see half of the panels I wanted to, and if anyone else reading this blog had a favorite panel related to ageing that I don’t report on, my sincere apologies. Please leave a comment below and let us know about it! Continue reading

CFP: Foolish things, clever stuff? The material side of nursing and care

Date: 18th20th January 2017, deadline for abstracts 25 May, 2016

Location: Heidelberg, Germany

Nursing is more than an interpersonal rapport in which individuals are connected to one another in a special relationship. In the course of the organisation of nursing and care – whether in a nursing home, a hospital or at home – a multitude of diverse items are involved, each with their own object-logic. Exactly what these are and how they are perceived by the nursing staff or the patients varies considerably and is dependent for instance upon the setting under consideration or the temporal context. How though, when considered in combination, do things which are neither an arbitrarily applicable means to an end (foolish things) nor as sophisticated troubleshooting all-rounders (clever stuff) – contribute to the construction of nursing and care?

The interdisciplinary and international conference ‘Dumme Dinge, schlaue Sachen?’ (‘Foolish things, clever stuff?’) takes up this question and focuses as well on the things of care: Material objects have until now usually been considered as ‘auxiliary resources’. In academic discussion as well as in collections, museums and exhibitions they remain largely unseen. This conference forms the conclusion of the interdisciplinary research project: ‘Die Pflege der Dinge – Die Bedeutung von Objekten in Geschichte und gegenwärtiger Praxis der Pflege’ (Care and Things – Objects and their Significance in Past and Present Nursing Practice, in brief: Pflegedinge) sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. The central element of the conference is to offer the opportunity for dialogue and for networking among researchers with a focus on material culture studies and researchers with a focus on nursing and care. Along with the presentation and discussion of the central results of the project’s collaborators, the conference is above all aimed at bringing together scientists, researchers and academics from beyond their particular disciplines and beyond national borders, who wish to present object-centred approaches to the following, or similar, issues:

  • How are/were theoretical and conceptual developments in things of care materialised?
  • How do/did individuals and things in nursing and care settings interact? How can/could objects lead to changes within the nursing and care sectors?
  • How do/did new nursing-oriented knowledge and the introduction of new things interact with one another in nursing and care settings?
  • How do/did societal perceptions and arrangements materialise in things of care, and how do/did things contribute to constructing them? Who had/has access to what knowledge? How are/were possible power structures formulated here?
  • (How and why) do things in nursing and care settings contribute to creating or preventing for instance personal privacy, autonomy, safety, normality, intimacy and

Contributions from nursing studies, ethnology, cultural anthropology, gerontology, history, history of nursing, museum studies, social pedagogy and organisational studies, sociology and other, related disciplines would be very welcome.

Contributions may be submitted and presented either in German or English. Please send your abstract (max. 500 words) together with a brief introduction of yourself (max. 50 words) at the latest by 25/5/2016 to:

Further information on this research project can be found at: http://www.

Who Wouldn’t Want to Retire in Vancouver?: #SfAA2016 Conference Report

Vancouver is a beautiful city, often topping the list of best cities in the world to live and retire in. It is not surprising that this year’s SfAA meeting was the most well-attended ever. Quite a few of us interested in the anthropology of aging and life course issues were there. While gazing at the gorgeous harbor views and walking in Stanley Park, we enjoyed having a chance to visit and discuss things going on in our field. Beyond the scenic outdoor settings and many cafes where we planted ourselves, we also attended relevant sessions at the conference venue.

AAGE President Iveris Martinez organized an excellent session co-sponsored by the SMA (Society for Medical Anthropology) and COPAA (Consortium on Practicing and Applied Anthropology Programs).The title of this session was “The Value of Applied Anthropology in Gerontology: Imagining alternative career paths at the intersection of anthropology, health, and aging”. Panel participants included Jay Sokolovsky, Sherri Briller, Megan Stamey McAlvain, Nanami Suzuki (below left)and Peggy Perkinson (pictured above left). Session discussants were Jean Schensul & Jay Sokolovsky. This panel explored the intersection between anthropology and gerontology in applied settings. It brought together anthropologists (both senior and junior) who work in a variety of settings seeking to employ anthropology to provide innovative ways of helping health professionals view and respond to health issues in late life. Specific topics covered included graduate medical education in treating older adults at the end of life, Japanese care workers helping older adults after the Great East Japan Earthquake, training staff for a Chinese Continuing Care Retirement Community, anthropological experiences in training physicians and healthcare workers for working with older patients, anthropologically training medical students and physicians about health and late life in cultural context, and teaching at the intersections of anthropology and aging.
AAGEatSfAA3_suzukiSome aging related topics appeared in other sessions including: joint development of health interventions with older adults in senior housing (Schensul, Radda, Reisine & Foster-Bey), discriminatory service delivery and understanding elders in HIV prevention campaigns in South Africa (Darling), power, sexuality and aging (Maynard-Tucker), CBPR physical activity intervention for rural residents (Schoenberg, Hoogland, Bardach & Tarasenko), caring across cultures: Mexicanas shaping eldercare (Kniseley), animal assisted therapy and aging issues (Yonce), museum anthropology and aboriginal seniors (Krmpotich),and generativity and older adult museum volunteering in the US (Shay). A special shout-out to those who gave aging related posters in the student poster session: factors that influence older women’s long term care planning (Corthright) and cultural associations between self-reported well-being and diminished physical performance among older adults (Snodgrass).
On Saturday morning, we presented ourselves at the International Suite at the Westin Bayshore for our AAGE annual networking breakfast and roundtable event (left). Thanks to Maria Vesperi and Jay Sokolovsky who helped us reserve such a lovely space for our breakfast meeting and to Tom May for making it possible. Thanks to Iveris Martinez and Amy Paul-Ward who helped us forage for the breakfast offerings ahead – there is no shortage of nice things to eat in Vancouver! In this elegant suite, we decided to forego our plan for having separate roundtables and have a larger more free-wheeling group discussion instead. We introduced the topics we had planned for the individual roundtables: preparing and engaging in applied gerontology careers, addressing social and cultural barriers to aging services, building social and health interventions with older adults, teaching about anthropology of aging and the life course, aging in place in Japan, reaching non-academic audiences with news about aging. Going forward, full sessions on any of these topics would likely be welcome for our upcoming conferences.


We discovered that nearly half of those who attended the networking breakfast were new to AAGE – a very encouraging finding indeed! Hopefully, all of these folks will become interested in joining our organization and continuing to participate. The breakfast discussion was lively about future directions and opportunities in the field of anthropology of aging and life course studies. One especially exciting development was that several of the students who presented their emerging work at our AAGE health disparities workshop conference in Miami, FL in 2015 gave updates at SfAA on their projects (Stanley and Stamey McAlvain). We are looking forward to hearing more from them and others at the 2017 AAGE conference which Jason Danely is organizing in Oxford, UK.

From this brief report, you can see that lots was going on of interest for those who are interested in the anthropology of aging and the life course. We explored Vancouver and learned more about each other’s important work in the field of aging.  Some of us even had our first Malaysian food at the Banana leaf restaurant in the company of other gerontologists –delicious! In short, it was great to get together with our colleagues, hear about new developments in their work and the field as a whole – and have an excellent time exploring the treasure that is Vancouver.
See you at SfAA in Santa Fe next year!

Sherylyn Briller, SfAA Liaison


AAGE symposium and networking at SfAA 2016, Vancouver

PageLines- sunlogo.pngJoin us Thursday, March 31st at 3:305:20pm for an AAGE Symposium on The Value of Applied Anthropology in Gerontology: Imagining Career Paths at the Intersection of Anthropology, Health, and Aging (co-sponsored by the Society for Medical Anthropology) at 76th Annual Society for Applied Anthropology Meeting to be held at The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver located at 1601 Bayshore Drive, Vancouver, BC V6G 2V4 CANADA (Coquitlam Room)
STAMEY MCALVAIN, Megan (NMSU) Quality of Life: A Qualitative Examination of Residents’ Training in Older Adult End of Life Care
SUZUKI, Nanami (Nat’l Museum of Ethnology) The Meaning of Collaborative Practices Conducted by Care Workers and Anthropologists after the Great East Japan Earthquake toward Aging-in-Place of Migrant Older Adults
PERKINSON, Margaret A. (UMBC) and ROCKEMANN, David D. (Plexus Grp) Teaching Applied Gerontology to Front-Line Staff of a New Continuing Care Retirement Community in China
SOKOLOVSKY, Jay (USF-St. Petersburg) It’s Always about Process: Anthropologically Training Medical Students and Physicians about Health and ‘Late Life’ in Cultural Context
BRILLER, Sherylyn (Purdue U) Teaching at the Intersection of Anthropology and Aging: Preparing Students for Meaningful Applied Gerontology Careers

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There will also be a light breakfast and informal discussion on “Applied Anthropology and Aging” (suggested donation is $8)*

Time: Saturday, April 2, 9-10:30AM

Place: International Suite at the Westin Bayshore Hotel

*Sign up at the SfAA registration desk or at the Thursday 3:30 session (above)

Discussion Table Hosts:

Sherylyn Briller  Preparing for and engaging in applied gerontology careers

Iveris Martinez  Addressing social and cultural barriers to aging services 

Jean Schensul   Building social and health interventions with older adults

Jay Sokolovsky  Teaching the anthropology of aging and the life course

Nanami Suzuki  Aging in place in Japan: the roles of anthropologists and caregivers

Maria Vesperi    Reaching non-academic audiences with news about aging

If you have any questions, please contact Iveris Martinez (

CFP: Evidencing the ageing process: An Anthropology of misfortune, (un)certainty, and risk (AAA 2016, Minneapolis)

If you’re interested please send in your abstract (max. 250 words) to Philip Kao and Jolanda Lindenberg (, before 8 April.

Evidencing the ageing process: An Anthropology of misfortune, (un)certainty, and risk

Organizers: Jolanda Lindenberg, PhD & Philip Y. Kao, PhD

Despite a growing attention to the biomedical and demographic considerations regarding ageing, the uncertainties and articulations in the ageing process remain palpable yet overdetermined. The bodily and biological processes of ageing rely on symptom aetiology that creates, explores, and pathologizes evidence of objectively considered markers.
But these markers are not as certain or naturalized as portrayed. In this session, we explore what older individuals consider evidence and accident of the ageing process. In other words, how do individuals in late-life perceive the nature of misfortune or fortune, and furthermore how do they navigate and make sense of these experiences, including loss and changes in risk perception, for better or worse? As an initial salvo, we suggest that focusing on ideas and practices concerning misfortune provides a window into the phenomenology of ageing in order to tease out the hidden/denied capacities such as late-life style, coping strategies, and resiliency as resources to combat the elective affinities underscoring ageist and other ideological constructions of the ageing process.

The sociological question of misfortune was famously raised by Max Weber to enquire into ways individuals understand their social situation, and we take this forward by exploring the construction of causal explanations, accidents and subsequent responses to misfortune in a variety of contexts. Misfortune has long been studied within the context of medical anthropology and the anthropology of religion. This panel aims to widen this scope by presenting new contexts for research. Of particular interest will be how conceptualizations of taken-for-granted events and “natural” courses of ageing obtain on the one hand, and how ambiguities and uncertainties emerge and resist on the other hand. Often enough, situations such as bodily decline, loss of a spouse, and/or changes in a living situation are considered an inescapable, intrinsic part of the ageing process. But the boundaries between natural or normal and unnatural and abnormal are not always evident in how individuals see and experience ageing. These boundaries will be magnified and scrutinized during this panel. Idioms (Reynolds Whyte), discursive practices (Foucault) and strategies to engage with and interact with misfortune as well as how these interactions gain significance in relations and meaningful social action will be investigated. Ultimately, the construction of ageing can be seen as a complex process involving not just experts and prophetical signifiers, but a symbolic obviation of (un)certainties, claims, prognoses, accidents, evidence and (mis)fortunes.

Keywords: certainty, uncertainty, misfortune, risk, ageing

 Contact Info:

Jolanda Lindenberg:

Philip Kao: