Category Archives: Conference

Aging and Anthropology at AAI 2016, Maynooth, Ireland


There is an old Irish folktale goes something like this:

A raven was carrying his chicks, one at a time, from an island to the mainland. In mid flight he asked the first, “Who will carry me when I am old and can no longer fly?”

“I will,” answered the young raven, but the father did not believe him, and dropped him into the sea.

The same question was put to the second chick. He too replied, “I will carry you when you are old,” and the father also let him fall into the sea.

The last chick received the same question, but he answered, “Father, you will have to fend for yourself when you are old, because by then I will have my own family to care for.”

“You speak the truth,” said the father raven, and carried the chick to safety.

Arthur Kleinman keynote at AAI

Arthur Kleinman keynote at AAI “Care as Moral Experience,”

Indeed, when it comes to the care of elderly people, tales like this one (not to mention the occasional controversial ethnography) don’t offer the most favorable picture of Irish care.  All the better then that the organizers of the 2016 conference of the Anthropological Association of Ireland (15-16 March) chose “Caring Cutlures/Cultures of Care” as their theme.
Maynooth University, a modern university on the grounds of a nineteenth century Catholic seminary, and the only Irish University with a Department of Anthropology, was the venue for this year’s conference. For two days (just preceding St. Patrick’s Day festivities), participants from across Europe gathered to engage with questions on the nature and significance of care in anthropology.
The conference did not explicitly focus on care of older people, yet it was telling that the keynote speaker was Prof. Arthur Kleinman (Harvard), who, while contributing widely to medical anthropology, has turned in his more recent work, to his personal experience of caring for his wife Joan. He cared for her for 10 years, during which she was also living with dementia. Reflecting on his experience, Kleinman argued that caregiving (and perhaps the care of older, ill, or disabled family) is central to humanity, and therefore should also be placed at the center of anthropology. In his keynote,  he presented a wide ranging discussion of care, from phenomenology and ethics, to art and ageing. He admonished what he felt was the “anti-humanitarian” effects of anthropological critiques on the politics of care, and particularly medical and international aid organisations. He chastised anthropologists for too hastily dismissing the real good that carers do, and encouraged us to consider ways to collaborate and improve care rather than stop at the point of our intellectual project of deconstruction.
Kleinman was not the only one at the conference to talk about care of the elderly. In fact, the number of papers presented on topics related to ageing and end of life care far outnumbered those on care of children or disabled persons. This swell of interest in ageing shows what an exciting moment this is for our field, and how powerful our work can be when brought together under a theme like care.
I began day 1 with two presentations on long term care. Resident community in nursing homes: A promising practice in the era of individualism? (Christine Øye, Bergen University College, Anne Karen  Bjelland (UiB), Gudmund Ågotnes, Bergen University College & Frode F. Jacobsen, Bergen University College). The authors described a small piece of a multinational study into the future of long term care, drawing mainly on ethnographic observations of resident interactions during meals. The authors brought up a theme that carried on throughout the conference concerning the tension between autonomy and collective engagement, particularly in care institutions. This was brought out most forcefully by Susanne van den Buuse (University of Amsterdam) in her paper The autonomy paradox: how promoting resident autonomy in a Dutch nursing home has a reverse effect, in which she described how Dutch initiatives to encourage older persons to embrace values of capability and self-reliance (bafflingly referred to as the “participation society”) resulted in role confusion, carer neglect, family resentments, and breakdowns in care. While many argue with the lack of personal freedom and dignity afforded in care institutions, these papers show how too much emphasis on autonomy leads to isolation and the moralised pressure to embody active ‘ageing’ that has its own damaging effects.
Questions of how to provide care for older adults and other vulnerable groups are particularly salient in an age of neoliberal governmentality and rapid technological advances. Together, both of these have contributed to models of care that privilege the role of the imagined independent, rational individual actor, deflecting responsibility away from public welfare institutions. While Annemarie Mol’s Logic of Care and Sharon Kaufmann’s Ordinary Medicine have been some of the most widely influential ethnographic accounts of this critique in recent medical anthropology, these and others draw on a much longer discussion on the relationship between individuals and the state that runs through political anthropology. Jacqui O’Riordan, Carol Kelleher & Feilim O’hAdhmaill, (University College Cork) and Anette Fagertun (Bergen University College, Norway) link this discussion to their work in Ireland and Norway respectively. Lived experiences of caring relations and interdependencies: Human orientation and moral reasoning as challenges to neoliberal rational thinking considered the ways insights from the ethics of care and feminist philosophy can offer alternatives to neoliberal subjectivity.  The anti-politics of Care in Norway: a theoretical discussion, Anette Fagertun pointed out how transformations in the kinds of knowledge used to shape and assess the effectiveness of care has at once depoliticised and “refamilialized”elder care.

Maynooth University, path to the cemetery. (Where else would you find an anthropologist?)

Maynooth University, path to the cemetery. (Where else would you find an anthropologist?)

In contrast to these more critical papers, there were several that highlighted the success of more grassroots, community focused, and holistic approaches to care. Amy Murphy, Cormac Sheehan, Chrizine Blackhorse, (University College Cork, The Crystal Project ) presented their work using a interactive drama techniques to collaborate with carers of people living with dementia (Pressure Play: forum theatre for carers of people living with dementia), and Andrea Kuckerg-Wöstheinrich (St. Augustinus Memory-Zentrum, Neuss, Germany) described how perspective taking is being used to make life better for people living with dementia in German long-term care (Changing perspectives – an institutional challenge in delivering qualitative good care for people with dementia). Dalia Zein, a landscape architect and anthropology Masters student at Central European University Hungary, highlighted the ways feminist architecture is easing unpaid care in Vienna (Infrastructures of Care: Tackling Unpaid Care Work and Ageing in Vienna’s Gender-Sensitive City Planning). Finally, Bodil Ludvigsen (University of Copenhagen) described how the ubiquity of the state in the everyday lives of Danish citizens is expressed through attachments and intimacy with home nurses. In her paper, Elderly people, home nurses, and relatedness, Bodil described how, far from being a target of resistance, older people living alone welcomed the benevolence of the state and felt empowered by its support.
My own paper, Wounded Worlds: compassion and vulnerability in narratives of unpaid carers of older adults in Japan and the UK, reported preliminary thoughts on subjectivity, emotion, and embodiment among family carers in two different cultural contexts. As Kleinman underlined in his keynote address, care is an excellent opening for conducting cross-cultural research, and my paper presented what struck me as overwhelming similarities between Japan and the UK when it came to the affects of care practices on the experience of self and the other. Ethnography of family care of the elderly is still an area that anthropology has much to contribute, and surprisingly few presentations ventured into the homes of carers or older adults.

There were many more presentations that I could not attend that will be of interest to AAGE members. I’ll just list some of them here, and urge you to get in touch if you want to know more.

Equality issues in conceptualising the body/self in Palliative Care Luciana Lolich & Kathleen Lynch, University College Dublin

Exploring the Perspectives and Experiences of Business Managers when working with Customers with Dementia Hannah Murphy & Jeanne Jackson, University College Cork

Crisis of care, migrant women and social reproduction in Spain Sílvia Bofill Poch, University of Barcelona

Growing old together: Deafness and aging in the context of cutbacks in care Anja Hiddinga, Michou Benoist  & Madeleine Herzog, University of Amsterdam

Long-term Care in Spain: The Impact of the Economic Crisis on Social Policies and its Effects on Older Adults with Care Needs Blanca Deusdad, Rovira i Virgili University

The number of panels examining culture and care at larger conferences like AAA is growing each year, and lends credence to Kleinman’s assertion that care is not just a passing fad, but an emerging center for theorizing human life. Moreover, if this conference is any indication, those anthropologists who work on ageing will be at the forefront of this endeavor.

Dementia and Everyday Life: Creative Approaches

7th April 2016, University of Manchester
Understanding dementia and its entanglement with everyday life presents a conceptual and methodological challenge to a range of disciplines in the humanities, health and natural sciences. In this day of academic seminars, we explore some of the work being conducted in humanities and health research to examine this topic, focusing on the creative approaches that are being developed to tackle questions of selfhood, relationality, materiality and narrative.

The event is co-hosted by the Morgan Centre for the Study of Everyday Life, the Dementia and Ageing Research Team and MICRA, the Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing.

Time and Location

7th April, 2016. 11am-5pm
Jean McFarlane Building Oxford Road, University of Manchester

Building 92 on the Campus Map

Nearest train stations: Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly, both around 10-20 minutes walk from the Jean McFarlane Building.


Dr Andrea Capstick and Dr Katherine Ludwin, School of Dementia Studies, University of Bradford

Dr Christina Buse, Department of Sociology, University of York

Dr Lucy Burke, Department of English, Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Jackie Kindell, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, Older People’s Mental Health Service, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Early Career Speakers

We have a few opportunities for early career researchers (including PhD students) to present their work and some limited funding to cover their travel expenses. If you are working on dementia and everyday life phenomena, particularly if you are using creative methods, then please consider putting forward a proposal to speak. We are open to creative suggestions for format, although ECR speakers should bear in mind that their slots will likely be limited to 15-20 minutes. To apply, contact the organisers with a suggested title and abstract of no more than 300 words by 21st March 2016. We will inform successful applicants by 23rd March.


This is a small event and is open to academic researchers working in the field of dementia and everyday life, or related areas.

To request a place at the workshop please email with your name and a sentence or two about your area of research.


Dr Andrew Balmer, Sociology and the Morgan Centre for the Study of Everyday Lives, University of Manchester.

Sarah Campbell, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, and the Dementia and Ageing Research Team, University of Manchester.

CFP: Ageing in Europe: Beyond the Work-Centered Life Course? (14-16 September, Frankfurt)

In modern European societies, work has become a key aspect in both structuring individual lives as well as in determining socio-economic well-being. Looking at recent ‘active ageing’ reforms, it is intended to become an even more central aspect for older individuals. This work-centred perspective – that also has been reflected in ageing research – provides the starting point for the Conference. It acknowledges work as a main focal point in later life by considering for example the questions of how and how long older people should and could be encouraged to stay active on the labour market. At the same time, it also intends to look at developments in other domains of social life, such as intergenerational relationships, volunteering or leisure. Against this background, the scientific committee particularly encourages submissions of papers on the following topics:
–       (Past-retirement) Activities: Labour Market Participation, Social Encouragement, Advanced Training
–       Retirement: Decisions, Expectations, Legal Framework
–       Social Inequalities: Old-Age Poverty, Ageism, Quality of Life, Dependency, Active Ageing-Policy
–       Images of Ageing: Culture, Values of Age(ing), Ageism, Stereotypes
–       Theoretical Concepts: Concepts of Ageing, Life Course Models, 4th Age

Prof. James Nazroo, University of Manchester, England
Prof. Asghar Zaidi, University of Southampton, England
Assistant Prof. Kathrin Komp, Helsinki University, Finland
Dr. Jonas Radl, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain

14.-16. September 2016, Goethe-University Frankfurt

Papers with a cross‐national, comparative focus are particularly welcome. Submissions from early-career researchers are also encouraged. Please note that individuals should not be the first author (i.e. the presenter) of more than one paper.
Abstracts should not exceed 250 words. Please submit electronic pdf-versions of abstracts to until February, the 29th 2016. You will be notified on acceptance of your paper until March, the 31st 2016.

High on AAGE at the Mile High City: #AAA2015 conference report

AAA2015_convention cneter1

Amid some snow flurries and nighttime temperatures dropping to 5°F, AAGE completed its 38th year with a major presence at the AAA meetings last November in Denver. Over the past five years we have partnered with the AAA Interest Group on Aging and the Life Course to share event space at the meetings, hold a joint business meeting and co-sponsor sessions, including our first invited session: Familiar Strangeness of Place and Person: Ethnographic Investigations of “Aging in Place.” It is important to know that beginning in 2015 Interest Groups could propose one invited session and if people want to propose one for the 2016 AAA meetings, send proposals to Jay Sokolovsky at
The exciting 2015 invited session, organized by AAGE members Jessica Robbins-Ruszkowski (Wayne State) and Aaron Seaman (University of Chicago), explored place, space and personhood in the US, Canada and Europe. These concepts also framed dozens of other papers presented at the meetings, including sessions dealing with death and bereavement, technologies of care, migration and aging scripts and changing family dynamics in China.

Back in the exhibit center!

Importantly, after a gap of three years, we had our own AAGE table again in the exhibit center. The table, organized by our own Maria Cattell (seen below with Jay Sokolovsky), became our touchstone at the meeting, which was held at the huge, rambling Colorado Conference Center.  Besides getting memberships and selling tee-shirts, we introduced people to some of the great new books on the anthro of Aging such as such: Unforgotten: Love and the Culture of Dementia Care in India by Bianca Brijnath, Aging and Loss: Mourning and Maturity in Contemporary Japan by Jason Danely, and Aging and the Digital Life Course by David Prendergast & Chiara Garattini. These books were included in our annual silent book auction funding the Jacob Climo student travel award.

AAA2015_booth 15

Even a reception and interlocutor special event

We also co-sponsored our annual reception and special interlocutor event. This year we filled the room for an event titled “Global Visions of Work in Late Life.” This began with a celebration of recent books and continued with lively a conversation as Jay Sokolovsky interrogated  authors, Anthropologist, Caitrin Lynch (Retirement on the Line: Age, Work, and Value in an American Factory) and Journalist, Joseph Coleman, (Unfinished Work: the struggle to build an aging American workforce).  One of many interesting aspect of the event was the engaging two speakers, an anthropologist who did intense ethnography in a Massachusetts factory along side 80 and 90-year-olds looking toward global comparison, interacting with an American journalist who wrote about aging in Japan, while living there, working his way back to thinking about late life labor in the United States.


Networked with Food

Friday night 20 of us connected at a unique Asian/Latino fusion restaurant called Zengo. It was a wonderful occasion, not only for the conversation with old AAGE friends, but also the chance to mentor graduate students and young scholars in a fun setting. As was typical in such events there was lively discussion of recent and future research, suggestions by senior faculty about key grant opportunities, post-docs and upcoming job openings. AAGE will be active at the upcoming Vancouver-based Applied Anthropology meetings and will sponsor a breakfast mentoring event there. Stay tuned for upcoming details.

Jay Sokolovsky, AAA Meetings Liason, Convenor of the Aging and the Life Course Interest Group

CFP: Examining troubling institutions and geographies at the nexus of care and control (10 Feb deadline)

Convenors: Tom Disney (University of Birmingham) and Anna Schliehe (University of Glasgow)

Institutional spaces of care and control can be found in various settings, ranging from psychiatric establishments, centres of migrant detention, prisons, orphanages, but also encompassing environments such as schools or military academies. Building upon previous work into the geography of institutions and geography in institutions (Parr and Philo 2000: 514), we want to explore the complicated and sometimes opaque relationship between care and control. This CFP responds to recent calls in carceral geography (Moran and Turner, AAG 2016) and aims to explore the potential diversity of research in this area. The session intends to collect different perspectives on empirical and theoretical engagements with everyday life in institutional spaces, to examine the troubling relationship between care and control; where one is at risk of being transformed into the other (see Disney 2015, Schliehe 2014). Does care inevitably cede into control? To what degree does this trouble us? Do we wish to trouble our conceptualisation of care and control – shake the ideas from the Foucault’s and the Goffman’s back to life in these ever changing institutional landscapes or find new lenses to unpick these spaces? We are interested in wide ranging perspectives from different sub-fields to discuss this relationship, such as carceral geography, mental health geography, children’s geographies and architectural geography. We also welcome contributions from other disciplinary backgrounds such as criminology or arts-based research to explore innovative methodological approaches and interdisciplinary engagement with the nexus of care and control.

Papers are invited which explore:

  • Institutional spaces where care and control are seen to intersect or collide
  • Methodological approaches, ethics and researcher positionality
  • Conceptual frameworks around institutional geographies
  • Spatiality of places of care and control including tactics, agency and resistance
  • Vulnerable and marginalised groups within institutional spaces of care and control, in particular in relation to age and gender
  • Embodied experiences and corporeal practices
  • Aspects of design and spatial practice
  • Beyond the ‘traditional’ carceral environment – the boarding school, military environments, hospices, care homes

Deadline for submitting abstracts is Wednesday 10th February 2016

Please send abstracts up to a maximum of 250 words and proposed titles (clearly stating name, institution, and contact details) to Tom Disney ( and Anna Schliehe (

Dates: 30 August – 2 September 2016: Location: Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and Imperial College London

Further details about the conference at:

Ageing and anthropology @EASA2016

Please consider submitting an abstract for one of the two accepted panels on ageing at the EASA2016 Conference in Milan, Italy (July 20-23)! Click the links below the corresponding abstracts to submit your paper proposal. Deadline is Feb 15, 2016

First is a panel organized by AAGE members Jason Danely (Oxford Brookes University, President-Elect, AAGE) and Jolanda Lindenberg (Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing, Netherlands).

Re-conceptualizing Kinship and Relatedness in an Ageing World


Within the discipline, critical voices emerging from post-colonial, feminist, queer studies and post-humanism seem to have deconstructed the anthropological category of kinship so comprehensively that it can be difficult to tell where to pick up the pieces. Given the highly mutable bonds of relatedness that characterize anthropological depictions of family life today, the stable structures and patterns of classical kinship appear less compelling, yet empirically, it remains evident that kinship still plays a vital role in the shaping of narratives of the life course and the provision of care.

In this panel we will reconsider kinship on the basis of insights from anthropological studies in societies experiencing rapid population ageing historically unprecedented longevity and declines in fertility. What happens to the conceptualization of kinship as populations become older, live longer, and as forms of their relatedness diversify? How does it give room for “constructed forms of kinship” and “logics of relatedness” (Sahlins 2011: 5)? What happens as we decenter the reproductive nuclear family and try to orient from the perspectives of older persons? Increasing numbers of people living longer also means increases in physical frailty and cognitive impairment, producing new potentials for indebtedness and intimacy, love and abandonment over the life course. Elsewhere, absence of kin due to smaller families, displacement or immigration, creates new spaces for political actors to occupy a more “family-like” role of care in the lives of older people. Our ageing world provokes us to imagine different forms and futures of relationality, affection and embodiment.

Chair: Jason Danely

Propose paper

The second panel also sounds fascinating!
Imagining an Old Future – Anthropological Perspectives on Age and Ageing

Tiina Suopajärvi (University of Helsinki),
Cordula Endter (Institute of European Ethnology/Cultural Anthropology),
Kamilla Nørtoft (University of Copenhagen),

Long Abstract
Ageing is one of the biggest social challenges of our time. In western societies old age is often considered as social and economic problem that needs to be resolved, on the other hand, by the decision-makers, but increasingly also by the elderly themselves. Desirable ageing is mainly pictured as active, healthy and independent. However, in reality ageing adults live their everyday lives in different kinds of communities, multiple socio-material relations and diverse bodies.
Anthropologists are in a crucial position in understanding and disclosing the complexity of age and ageing. However, this may require reconsideration of the methodological, theoretical and empirical knowledge-making within the discipline. What can we know through the existing anthropological practices, and what kinds of knowledge and forms of expression remain hidden? How can new disciplinary and methodological crossings expand our understanding of the heterogeneity of ageing? And further, how can we ensure that the voices of the ageing citizens become heard in their communities and societies? In other words, can, and should, anthropologists become engaged more directly in the policy on ageing? And does this call for, for example, more collaborative and participatory ways of asking questions, or generating and transmitting knowledge?
We invite scholars both from anthropology and other disciplines, as well as people outside academic world to consider the new challenges of ageing. We are looking for lively discussions on theoretical conceptualisations but also on practical, applied perceptions, experiences and practices on what it means to become old in the 21st century.

Propose paper

Conditions and Rules on the Call for Papers for EASA 2016
Deadline: The call for papers is now open and closes at midnight GMT on February 15th, 2016.
Proposing a paper: All proposals must be made via the online form, not by email. Proposals must be made to a specific panel. There is a ‘propose a paper’ link beneath the long abstract of each panel page.

Paper proposals must consist of:

  • a paper title
  • the name/s and email address/es of author/s
  • a short abstract of fewer than 300 characters
  • a long abstract of fewer than 250 words


AAGE @ #SfAA2016


AAGE members have been accepted to present a special SMA-sponsored panel at this year’s meeting of the Society of Applied Anthropology.


(TH-136) THURSDAY 3:30-5:20
The Value of Applied Anthropology in Gerontology: Imagining Career Paths at the Intersection of Anthropology, Health, and Aging (SMA)

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 (UF-St. Petersburg) Its 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


This panel explores the intersection between anthropology and gerontology in applied settings. Aging is a universal human experience, but human longevity, the rhythms of the life-course, and the experience of later life, vary enormously from one culture to another. Anthropologists are now working in many health and aging-related environments. This panel will bring 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. Anthropologists can have a deep impact in the way future health professionals think about their patients and patient populations. Discussion will center on the roles, challenges and pedagogical issues in this growing and important area.

Announcing the Life Course Collaborative Research Network

AAQ31covercutAAGE, working together with the Anthropology of Aging and the Life Course Interest Group (AALCIG) and the Anthropology of Children and Youth Interest Group (ACYIG) of the American Anthropological Association have now established a joint Collaborative Research Network (CRN) for those interested in exploring connections (e.g., physical, political, developmental, symbolic, etc.) between childhood/youth and adulthood/old age.

The group has several potential project in mind (for those of you who like a few outputs to go with your intellectual exchange), including a blog share, a conference, organizing panels for other conferences, sharing teaching resources like syllabi, and developing opportunities for publishing and collaborative research projects.

Our central communication hub for plotting and schemeing will be our CRN_Lifecourse listserv. If you are interested in joining, please visit and complete the registration form.

We are interested in strengthening the intellectual exchange among scholars whose primary research focus has been on one stage of the life course but who are interested in inter-generational relationships, longitudinal studies, autobiographies, life course transitions, and the category of age itself in ways that require broader conceptual frameworks. At the moment, funding, publication, teaching curriculums, and the sections and subgroups of professional groups reinforce and naturalize divisions between scholars interested in the life course. Ages end up like fieldsites, where the anthropologist is encouraged, for example, to specialize on the internal workings of a single village, rather than looking at a the larger area of settlements with which it shares relationships and ecological context. In contrast, the CRN_Lifecourse encourages the development of concepts that problematize terms like ‘stages of life,’ ‘generations,’ and ‘age,’ and encourages the proliferation of specific methods and strategies to help us better conduct life-course research. Finally, we will critically engage with the ways old age and youth are sometimes pitted against each other (e.g., in competition for humanitarian aid or organ transplants), while at other times, they are lumped together (e.g., as unproductive, naive, care-dependent, vulnerable, or sacred). We hope to examine how such connections impact the ways societies evaluate the life course.

If you have questions (especially technical ones best handled off the listserv) contact Jason Danely ( You are also welcome to leave comments or ideas below!

Aging and the Life Course at #AAA2015, update

AAGE will have a booth at the meeting of the American Anthropological Association (#AAA2015) starting this week in Denver.

Stop by booth 222 (the photo below is an artistic representation of what we think it should look like).

72-Year-Old Ruth Flowers Decided To Become A Club Dj At 68

(Well actually, it is 72 year old Ruth Flowers, a real DJ)

Stop by the booth and say hi, learn about what is going on in the organization and how you can get involved, and get the secret password to come to the exclusive AAGE conference dinner.

Also, take a look at our latest journal and the list of books available for review in the journal. Best of all, you can bid on books donated by members to support the the Jacob Climo Award for student travel to conferences.

See you in Denver!

AAGE at #AAA2015 part 1

Click here for more on AAGE at conferences

Click here to go to AAGE at #GSA2015

Click here to go to AAGE at #AAA2014


Intergenerations, temporalities, and medical anthropology (23-24 June 2016, Univ. Lisbon)

*​​Abstract Deadline: 7 February 2016*

Abstract submission at <>*

  • Notification of acceptance: 6 March 2016
  • Deadline for paper submission: 1st June 2016

Emerging from the field of medical anthropology, the Medical Anthropology Young Scholars (MAYS) 2016 conference will explore the temporal and intergenerational dynamics of health,
illness, and medicine.
Illnesses, health diagnostics, aging, and politics of prevention are life
events that require us to reinterpret our past and to negotiate with
medical professionals, public health institutions, and healthcare systems.
As we negotiate such events, we learn how to intervene in the present as
well as to plan or “design” our hypothetical future. Health conditions and
healing processes force us to reflect on our life course in profoundly new
ways. Life course temporalities allow us to enter into new systems of
commitments and purposes regarding health and well-being.
While specific generational temporalities open new relations with the body
and with social and medical environments, intergenerational exchanges
reveal divergent expectations and perceptions of life. Understanding
temporalities as an inherent and intimate part of all lived experience
calls into question how health plays a role in the ways we practice and
understand the temporal flow of past, present, and future, and how time
influences the relationship human beings develop with health.

The MAYS 2016 conference invites anthropologists to focus on the different
ways that humans understand and undergo times of illness, as well as the
plurality of temporalities they experience in health related contexts. The
discipline of medical anthropology has long been accustomed to confronting
health and illness experiences and has much to offer in this area.

We call for papers that contribute to the conceptualization of time in
medical anthropology. Here are some suggestions, although further ideas
will be welcomed and discussed:

  • Politics of ageing (time as ageing/getting old as illness, plastic surgery
    as a remedy to stop time)
  • Materializations of time in health practices, cure, and care
  • Generational span and time as age in biomedical nosology
  • Biomedical constitutions of time, i.e. the biological clock, childbirth
    due-date, recovering time
  • Intergenerational health consequences: prenatal diagnosis and screening
  • Epigenetic and trans-generational effects
  • Disease risk factors: reconfigurations of future inheritance and genetic
  • Biopolitics and medicalization of childhood and youth
  • Ethnographies of health-related events: reconfiguration of time (past,
    present and future)
  • Time as a resource/worrying in chronic conditions.
  • Healthy bodies as a full-time priority: socio-political and economic
  • Full-time caregivers, palliative care setting, late-life care
  • Prevention: biomedical policies and the future of healthy generations

Methodological themes

  • Temporal texture of ethnographic fieldwork.
  • In the field: between waiting and unexpected moments
  • Construction of time in Ethnography

Format of the meeting

The conference will have a peer-review structure. We believe this structure
is of great value since everyone will have the opportunity to receive
feedback and engage with each other’s work, making the encounters most
productive. There will be parallel group sessions, each of which will
include paper presentations of ten minutes followed by 20 minutes of
discussion. Participants will be asked to submit their papers ahead of time
so that everybody can read them beforehand. Furthermore, we will assign
‘presenter tandems.’ This means that someone else will present your paper
and comment on it, and you will be asked to comment on your tandem
partner’s paper. This has proven to be a productive format that guarantees
each presenter will receive well-founded feedback, and it typically
initiates a constructive discussion. Further information about workshops
and a keynote lecture will follow in due time.

Registration fee

There will be a small registration fee of 10 Euros per person to be paid
upon arrival. We will cover the coffee break and a buffet lunch
(sandwiches). We are currently exploring other funding possibilities, but
unfortunately we will not be able to refund speakers’ travel costs and
strongly encourage you to search for funding options in your own


We invite you to submit an abstract of max. 300 words. After the
notification of acceptance you will be requested to submit your complete
paper, which should be no longer than 5,000 words (excluding references).