Category Archives: Publications

New Publications Spotlight: Translating anthropology to medical practice

For a list of all new publications from the first quarter of 2017, click here

At the closure of this new quarter we have tried to trace the articles published by members and non-members again. The sheer number of articles identified alone already testify to the relevance of our topic of interest. In this post about the last quarter, I again highlight two articles that discuss related topics. The first is an article published by, among others, fellow AAGE member Lynette Leidy Seivert about the experience of hot flashes among Mayan and non-Mayan women in Campeche state, Mexico (Huicochea-Gómez et al. 2017). The second concerns an article published by Kaitrin M. Jacklin and co-authors (Jacklin et al. 2016) about the experiences of indigenous people with Diabetes type II with Canadian health care. Continue reading

Recent publications in review

In the last quarter of 2016, we have identified about 60 articles published at the crossroads of anthropology and gerontology. AAGE members published no less than a quarter of those articles, attesting to the prolific activity in this group. This periodical update of recent publications will be a regular feature of AAGE, and each update will be supplemented by a brief commentary that elaborates on a couple of the member contributions.

While all of these contributions deserve a read for those of us interested in the state of the field, for this post I want to highlight just two articles, both of which discuss the role of social engagement and how it relates to successful aging.

linguistic strategies in intergenerational communication can enhance well-being

Continue reading

AAGE Member News June 2016

As this month’s member news attests, it is not only the senior members of AAGE who get all the accolades. All of the entries for this month’s news are students and early career (within 5 years of last degree) members who deserve tremendous praise for finding success in this highly competitive field.

For those of us who can no longer count ourselves among the ‘early career’ group, it is always nice to remember where we came from and how AAGE influenced where we are now. In what is also to be a regular feature of the news, scroll down to see a short reflective piece by one of our long-standing members, explaining why they continue to participate in AAGE and what it has meant for their career. You might think of this as member news on a different scale of time, but we also hope it encourages our current members to make the most of this association and to get to know their colleagues.

Now, to our members!

Continue reading

CFP: Morality and Aging (special issue of Anthropology & Aging)

We are seeking additional contributors for a special issue we plan to
propose. Responding to recent trends in ‘moral anthropology’, the issue
will be specifically concerned with moralities in and through the latter
stages of the life course. How, we ask, might moralities intersect with
ageing?Just as the life course is bodily lived and socially shaped so is it
morally mediated. How are the latter stages of the life course mediated,
interpreted, judged, or de/valued with and through moral frames? Meanings
of ‘the good’, for example, may shift with advancing age, while moral
discourses may map how ageing is to be both lived and interpreted. As with
recent ideals of ‘successful ageing’, what it means to grow old may itself
be imbued with moral imperative.While contributions must be ethnographically grounded, we encourage potential contributors to take an exploratory approach to the topic.
The issue is edited by Andrew Dawson and Bryonny Goodwin-Hawkins (The
University of Melbourne), and will be proposed to Anthropology & Aging.Potential contributors should send an abstract (max. 250 words) and a brief
bio to goodwin@unimelb.edu.au by April 4th.We will notify the selected contributors of the article deadline after the
acceptance of our proposal.

Best wishes,

Bryonny Goodwin-Hawkins

CFP: Growing old with and via media

 MedieKultur vol. 33, no. 63
Submission deadline: November 1st, 2016
Publication: Fall 2017
Guest editors: Anne Leonora Blaakilde, ablaa@hum.ku.dk, University of Copenhagen; Monika Wilińska, Monika.Wilinska@ju.se, Jönköping University
Issue editor: Sara Mosberg Iversen, siv@sdu.dk, University of Southern Denmark
“Media researchers hate old people” claims the polemic title of an article by Norwegian media scholar Trine Syvertsen (2010). We will not go so far as to suggest that, but do, on the other hand, maintain that older men and women and their media-related practices as well as the mediated representations of old age deserve much more research interest from Media and Communication Studies than they currently get. This is particularly relevant given the growing diversity of media uses and practices on the one hand, and the intensification of public discourses regarding the expected ways of ageing, if not non-ageing, in contemporary socio-economical, political and cultural domains. Therefore, it is crucial to examine these changes as processes that are intertwined. This will facilitate a better understanding of the ways old age is approached in contemporary media texts, technologies, institutions and practices as well as how media in various ways contribute to shaping, managing and negotiating old age both as representations, policy issues and as experiences and practices of everyday life.
In this issue of MedieKultur, we want to explore the processes and practices of growing old with and through media. The particular focus is on the following two questions:
1)    How do media texts and institutions contribute to the maintenance and negotiations of different notions of ageing?
2)    What are the multiple roles of media technologies in old age today in terms of, for instance, memory work, self-monitoring, the rhythm of everyday life, or continuity between work life and retirement among diverse groups of older men and women?
MedieKultur invites theoretical, methodological and empirical inquiries into the interplay between contemporary notions and practices of ageing and media technologies, institutions and texts. Topics and themes for articles can include but are not limited to:
– (The changing) media representations of ageing and old age within diverse media genres.
– Older men and women’s media practices in everyday life or as seen from a life course perspective.
– Media policies related to old age and the ways these are co-constructing notions and practices of ageing.
– Uses of media technologies and applications in the management of old age, for instance as technologies of domination or self.
– Expressions of ageism, that is discrimination or prejudices due to chronological age, in media content, technologies or production.

Call for Book Chapter Proposals: The Aging/Disability Nexus, 1-December deadline

Abstracts should be 350 words in length, 12 point font, double-spaced and saved in a .doc (not .docx) WORD file. Please also include a 50 word biography with your submission.

Abstracts and bios should be sent via email to co-editors Katie Aubrecht (katie.aubrecht@msvu.ca), Christine Kelly (christine.kelly@uottawa.ca) and Carla Rice (carlar@uoguelph.ca). Abstracts must be received by December 1, 2015 to be considered.

Critical disability studies has long utilized the concept of ‘temporarily able-bodiedness,’ calling us to recognize the dynamic and fluid boundaries of the category of disability, that can open at any point in the life course, but especially so as one ages. In fact, according to Statistics Canada 1 in 3 Canadians over the age of 65 lives with a disability. According to the World Health Organization (2011) and United Nations (2013), global population aging parallels changes in the types of disability that countries have and can expect. But, disability studies and critical gerontology also call us to recognize the ways in which these statements are not so simple, that aging with a disability is distinct from aging into disability, and that experiences are further complicated by a multitude of other identities, socio-economic factors and geopolitics. Our edited collection seeks to intervene at this complex and urgent intersection.

National and international scholarship that explores the aging/disability nexus is surprisingly limited, but what does exist is innovative and stimulating (Kontos & Martin, 2013; Raymond & Grenier, 2013; Chivers, 2011; Mintz, 2007; Basting, 2005; Burke, 2008; Katz & Marshall, 2004; Silvers, 1999; Wendell, 1999). Despite the high rates of disability among older adults, aging studies has yet to fully engage with insights from disability studies. Instead, scholars rely on dominant medical paradigms, researching ‘co-morbidities’ ‘complex needs’ and other reductive visions of disability. While we are currently in the midst of an exciting cultural turn in age studies (Katz, 2014) and gerontology (Twigg & Martin, 2015) with a focus on embodiment (privileging intersectional analyses, gender and sexuality), disability studies perspectives remain marginal or altogether absent. In disability studies, there has been important, yet limited, engagement with the particularities of aging with a disability. At the same time, disability activism has been perceived as exclusionary to older adults (Jonson & Larsson, 2009).

In short, within the social sciences and humanities, intersectional scholarship that explicitly focuses on the nexus of disability and aging has yet to be collected in a comprehensive way. Works cross fields and disciplines that are not usually in conversation, and can therefore be difficult to locate. There is also a tendency to conflate disability and aging (Chivers, 2011), and subsume one under the other, without giving adequate attention to the tensions that shape how disability and aging are known, lived and experienced.

This collection is driven by the assumption that generative possibilities emerge when aging is situated in a disability politics which, as Eli Clare (2014) reminds us,

… asserts that disability is lodged not in paralysis but rather in the stairs without an accompanying ramp, not in blindness but rather in the lack of Braille. Disability itself does not live in depression or anxiety but rather exists in a whole host of stereotypes, not in dyslexia but in teaching methods unwilling to flex, not in lupus or multiple sclerosis but in the belief that certain bodily conditions are a fate worse than death. (pp. 207-208)

 A “fate worse than death” is not only a metaphor, but a reflection of the ways in which disabled and older people are physically and representationally erased from the present and from our visions of the future. Alison Kafer (2013) writes,

 The task, then, is not so much to refuse the future as to imagine disability and disability futures otherwise, as part of other, alternative temporalities that do not cast disabled people out of time, as the sign of the future of no future. (p.34)

 

The politics of aging and disability must thus also be situated in time, to attend to the ways in which fears of both disability and old age are rooted in the glorification of a present that is less than glorious, a present that excludes, denies and erases.

This international collection will address an important absence in cultural gerontology and disability studies. It will provide an accessible anthology of works perceived as having potential inform public engagement, education, policy and practice, and will serve as a primer for students, scholars, artists and activists working at the intersections of aging and disability.

We seek abstracts for theoretical, empirical, and pedagogical papers from established and emerging scholars, and new and experienced activist-academics and artists. Proposals that reference community-based research and projects are especially welcome. We use a broad definition of disability that incorporates physical, sensory, learning and intellectual differences, d/Deafness, as well as m/Mad, mental health consumer and psychiatric survivor experiences.

Topics to be explored may include, but are not limited to:

  • Ability expectations for older adults
  • Accessible/livable communities
  • Activist and arts-based methodologies at the intersection of aging and disability
  • Aging and disability from indigenous perspectives
  • Aging and disability in literature, visual and performing arts
  • Aging, disability and art
  • Aging, disability and a poetics of embodiment
  • Aging, disability and the law/ethics
  • Aging, disability and immigration/emigration
  • Aging, disability, race and ethnicity
  • Aging, disability and sexuality
  • Aging, disability and time
  • Aging, disability and social inclusion/isolation
  • Alternative services and supports related to disability or aging
  • Community contributions of disabled older adults
  • Critical disability studies approaches to aging
  • Decolonizing disability and aging
  • Deinstitutionalization and aging
  • Experiences of aging with and into disability
  • Housing and homelessness in the third and fourth age
  • Intergenerationality in disability communities
  • Policy and promising practices concerning disability, aging and care
  • Intersectional analyses of disability and age
  • Mad, psychiatric survivor, and mental health consumer perspectives, experiences and movements
  • Politics of care at the intersections of aging and disability
  • Queering disability and aging
  • Labour force participation of disabled older adults/Retirement and disability
  • The gendered and sexed dimensions of aging and disability
  • The pleasures of aging and disability
  • The promise of cultural gerontology for reimagining disability and aging
  • The role of disabled and older adults in cultural transmission
  • Transgressive approaches to understanding aging and disability

Submissions for consideration for inclusion in the book will undergo a multi-stage process of peer-review, beginning with an initial review by the editors. Contributors will be notified of the decision on their abstract in January, 2016. Acceptance of an abstract does not guarantee inclusion in the book.

The editors plan to apply for funding to host a workshop in Summer 2016. At this workshop, invited contributors will be sponsored to attend in person in order to present draft chapters of their work. This will help us prepare for a submission of the manuscript for review by the publisher in Winter 2017.

About the Editors

 Katie Aubrecht, PhD, is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellow, Mount Saint Vincent University, and Research Coordinator at the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging. Katie’s research examines the social and political significance of ‘person-centred’ dementia care paradigms. She has published in Social Identities, Review of Disability Studies, Studies in Social Justice, Seniors Housing & Care, and in 2013 edited a special issue of Health, Culture and Society, “Translating Happiness: Medicine, Culture and Social Progress.” katie.aubrecht@msvu.ca

Christine Kelly, PhD, is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies at the University of Ottawa. Informed by feminist and critical disability scholarship, Christine’s research explores the politics of care and Canadian disability movements. Christine’s book Disability Politics and Care: The Challenge of Direct Funding (UBC Press, fall 2015) explores the theoretical and policy implications of rejecting care, an approach represented by many disability activists. For more information see: www.christinekelly.ca.

Dr. Carla Rice is Professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Guelph. A leader in the field of embodiment studies in Canada, her research explores cultural representations and stories of body and identity. She founded Project Re•Vision, a media lab that works with misrepresented and aggrieved communities to challenge stereotypes. Notable books include Gender and Women’s Studies in Canada: Critical Terrain (2013), and Becoming Women: The Embodied Self in Image Culture (2014).

References

Basting, A. (2005). Dementia and the performance of self. In C. Sandahl & P. Auslander (Eds.), Bodies in commotion: Disability & performance (202-214). Michigan: University of Michigan Press.

Burke, L. (2008). ‘The country of my disease’: Genes and genealogy in Alzheimer’s life-writing. Journal of Cultural & Literary Disability Studies, 2(1), 63-74.

Chivers, S. (2011). The silvering screen: Old age and disability in cinema. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Clare, E. (2014). Meditations on natural worlds, disabled bodies, and a politics of cure. In S. Iovino & S. Oppermann (Eds.), Material ecocriticism (pp. 204-219). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Jonson, H. & Larsson, A. (2009). The exclusion of older people in disability activism and policies: A case of inadvertent ageism? Journal of Ageing Studies, 23(1), 69–77.

Kafer, A. (2013). Feminist, queer, crip. Bloomington, IN: Indiana.

Katz, S. (2014). What is age studies? Age, Culture, Humanities, 1. Retrieved from http://ageculturehumanities.org/WP/what-is-age-studies/

Katz, S. & Marshall, B. (2004). Is the functional ‘normal’? Aging, sexuality and the bio-marking of successful living. History of the Human Sciences, 17(1), 53-75.

Kontos, P. & Martin, W. (2013). Embodiment and dementia: Exploring critical narratives of selfhood, surveillance and dementia care. Dementia, 12(3), 288-302.

Mintz, S. (2007). Unruly bodies: Life Writing by women with disabilities. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.

Raymond, E. & Grenier, A. (2013). Participation in policy discourse: New form of exclusion for seniors with disabilities? Canadian Journal on Aging, 32(2), 117-129.

Silvers, A. (2000). Aging fairly: Feminist and disability perspectives on intergenerational justice. In M. Urban Walker (Ed.), Mother time: Women, aging and ethics (pp. 203-226). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Twigg, J. & Martine, W. (Eds.). (2015). Routledge handbook of cultural gerontology. London: Routledge.

United Nations. (2013). World population ageing 2013. Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division. New York: United Nations.

Wendell, S. (2000). Old women out of control: Some thoughts on aging, ethics and psychosomatic medicine. In Mother time: Women, aging and ethics (pp. 133-150). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

World Health Organization. (2011). Global health and ageing. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/ageing/publications/global_health.pdf?ua=1

 

 

New Title: Aging and the Digital Life Course, Pendergast and Garattini, eds.

PrendergastAgingThe third volume, in the Berghahn series, Life Course, Culture & Aging: Global Transformations, edited by Jay Sokolovsky is now available.

AGING AND THE DIGITAL LIFE COURSE EDITED BY DAVID PRENDERGAST AND CHIARA GARATTINI examines how developments in smart phones, the internet, cloud computing, and online social networking are redefining experiences and expectations around growing older in the twenty-first century.

FOR TEACHING FACULTY: Although books come out in hardcover, special course order pricing is available from Univeristy bookstores, contact: Molly Mosher at: molly.mosher@berghahnbooks.com

Manuscript ideas/manuscripts for this series can be submitted to the editor, Jay Sokolovsky (jsoko@earthlink.net)
Previous volumes include:
Volume 1: TRANSITIONS AND TRANSFORMATIONS: Cultural Perspectives on Aging and the Life Course, Edited by Caitrin Lynch & Jason Danely, 2013, NOW IN PAPERBACK
VOLUME 2: UNFORGOTTEN: LOVE AND THE CULTURE OF DEMENTIA CARE IN INDIA, Bianca Brijnath, 2014
We encourage you to take advantage of a limited time 50% off discount offer available with the use of this secure online flyer HERE

Anthropology & Aging Vol.36 no.1

AAQ35(1)cover_3sm

link to the issue

The June 2015 issue of Anthropology & Aging features the latest commentaries, articles, and reviews, available free now through our open-access agreement. In addition to our usual content, this issue includes a commentary/response format first introduced in the special issue on the body (33.3) and reintroduced in this issue by Maruta Vitols and Caitrin Lynch’s piece on representations of aging in films and a reflective response by A&A co-editor Philip Kao. Stephanie May de Montigny’s Portfolio continues this discussion of performance, narrative, and creativity on the stage. We hope these contributions spark more interest and interaction here on our blog as well as in cafes and classrooms everywhere!

Every issue of Anthropology & Aging that we produce depends on the skills and time volunteered by our editorial staff, our board, peer reviewers, and digital publishing support. This issue is especially exciting because also it showcases the work happening across the Association of Anthropology and Gerontology—from supporting student work with the Margaret Clark Award, to the international conference held last February.

Anthropology & Aging 36(1) begins with an commentary adapted from the keynote address delivered by past International President of Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders  (MSF), Dr. Unni Karunakara at the 2015 AAGE Conference on “Health Disparities in Aging” hosted by Florida International University. Dr. Karunakara writes from the front lines of global public health and humanitarian response, and his evaluation of the recognition (or lack thereof) of the important roles of older people in high risk, post-disaster circumstances reveals the need to rethink how aid organizations are held accountable for including older adults as a priority in their work.

In addition to Dr. Karunakara’s Keynote, the AAGE conference also provided a chance for our organization to support student research and professionalization. One of our banner activities in this regard has been the awarding of the Margaret Clark award for student papers. In 2014 AAGE awarded two Margaret Clark Awards, one at the graduate level (Ben Kasstan, Durham University), and another at the undergraduate level (Lilly Lerer, University of Chicago). The awardees both revised their papers into articles and braved the peer-review process to be accepted for publication in A&A. Ben Kasstan’s article focuses on the voices and experiences of Shoah survivors at a UK day center mediate their experiences of past trauma by incorporating elements of Judaism, literally through food and memory. Lilly Lerer’s article is a sensitive and intimate account of her fieldwork with hospice patients and staff as they mutually embody a temporality of ‘slow care’ that contrasts with the efficient and cure-centered care of the biomedical end of life settings.

Care is a theme running throughout this issue, and, as the authors note, throughout current discussions of doing anthropology in the Anthropocene. Two additional articles in this issue take up the theme of care for older adults. Iza Kavedžija’s ethnographically rich depiction of community care in urban Japan looks at the co-productions of categories of ‘elderly’ and ‘carer’ as individuals move through various care settings, employing symbolic and linguistic cues that mark roles and relationships along a spectrum of social potentialities. Fetterolf, a student member of AAGE, examines healing in Alzheimer’s care in the US, adopting a case study approach, proposing that close attention to personhood creates ‘bridges’ to providing better care.

Enjoy this issue and we look forward to bringing you our next special issue on “Aging the Technoscape” in the Fall. CFP is still open until June 30 for this issue, and general submissions on other topics are always welcome!

Anthropology & Aging Books to Review!

Aging in America (County and City Extra Series) by Robert L. Scardamalia ·  Series: County and City Extra Series

·  Hardcover: 446 pages ·  Publisher: Bernan Press (June 17, 2014)·  Language: English ·  ISBN-10: 1598887025·  ISBN-13: 978-1598887020

Protecting Seniors Against Environmental Disasters: From Hazards and Vulnerability to Prevention and Resilience…by Michael R Greenberg ·  Series: Earthscan Risk in Society ·  Hardcover: 228 pages ·  Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (July 21, 2014)·  Language: English ·  ISBN-10: 0415842018  ISBN-13: 978-0415842013
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Aging: The Role of Gerontological Social Workby Noell L Rowan and Nancy L Giunta ·  Hardcover: 352 pages  Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (February 4, 2015)  Language: English ·  ISBN-10: 1138842087 ·  ISBN-13: 978-1138842083
Aging in Canada  by Neena L. Chappell and Marcus J. Hollander 20 September 2013 ISBN 9780195447668
Unfinished Work: The Struggle to Build an Aging American Workforce by Joseph Coleman  Feb 2, 2015 ·  ISBN-10: 0199974454 ·  ISBN-13: 978-0199974450
New Directions in the Sociology of Aging by Social Epidemiology, and the Sociology of Aging Panel on New Directions in Social Demography, Committee on Population, Division on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education and National Research Council (Jan 9, 2014) Publication Date: January 9, 2014 | ISBN-10: 0309292972 | ISBN-13: 978-0309292979
Aging in Asia: Findings from New and Emerging Data Initiatives by James P. Smith, Malay Majmundar, Panel on Policy Research and Data Needs to Meet the Challenge of Aging in Asia and Committee on Population (Apr 2, 2013)
Aging Femininities: Troubling Representations by Josephine Dolan and Estella Tincknell (Jun 1, 2012) Publication Date: June 1, 2012 | ISBN-10: 1443838837 | ISBN-13: 978-1443838832
Aging, Culture and Society: A Sociological Approach (Social Perspectives in the 21st Century) by Jason L., Ph.D. Powell (Aug 6, 2013) ·  ISBN-10: 1628089601·  ISBN-13: 978-1628089608
Global Aging, China and Urbanization (Social Perspectives in the 21st Century) by Jason L. Powell (Sep 7, 2013) ISBN-13: 978-1628084528 ISBN-10: 1628084529
Caring Across Generations: The Linked Lives of Korean American Families by Grace J. Yoo and Barbara W. Kim (Jun 20, 2014)
Physical Change and Aging, Sixth Edition: A Guide for the Helping Professions by Sue V. Saxon PhD, Mary Jean Etten EdD GNP FT and Dr. Elizabeth A. Perkins PhD RNMH (Sep 26, 2014) Publication Date: September 26, 2014 | ISBN-10: 0826198643 | ISBN-13: 978-0826198648 | Edition: 6
Annual Review of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Volume 34, 2014 ISBN: 01988794
Sexuality and Dementia: Compassionate and Practical Strategies for Dealing with Unexpected or Inappropriate Behaviors…Douglas Wornell MD (December 13, 2013) ·  ISBN-10: 1936303558·  ISBN-13: 978-1936303557 Edition: 1
Youdin, Robert. Clinical Gerontological Social Work Practice. Springer Pub Co. 2014. ISBN-13: 978-0826129895 pp. 288 $64.02
The Inner Life of the Dying Person (End-of-Life Care: A Series) by Allan Kellehear (Jun 3, 2014)
Growing Old in Cameroon: Gender, Vulnerability, and Social Capital by Charles Che Fonchingong (Dec 11, 2013) Publication Date: December 11, 2013 | ISBN-10: 0761861254 | ISBN-13: 978-0761861256
Exploring the Lives of Aging Lesbians on Lake Superior’s North Shore: An ethnographic study uniting the demographics… by Angela C. Nichols (Nov 7, 2013)

If you are interested in reviewing these titles, contact
Joann Kovacich, Anthropology and Aging Book Reviews Editor
School of Advanced Studies
Online Faculty, University of Phoenix

jkovacich@rochester.rr.com

AAGE interview with anthropologist Margaret Lock

Margaret-Lock-Alzheimers-article

Photo courtesy of Owen Egan

by JOLANDA LINDENBERG

It is quite rare that debates about ageing take center stage in anthropology. As part of a new endeavor by AAGE we invite influential anthropologists to reflect on their experiences studying ageing, and to offer their views on possible futures for the field.
One scholar who has pushed our subject matter within and beyond its boundaries is Margaret Lock. Currently, Lock is the Marjorie Bronfman professor emerita at McGill University where she established the medical anthropology programme. She has published over 2oo articles and 17 books and won numerous prizes for these publications.

Last year, Margaret Lock published a new book entitled ‘The Alzheimer Conundrum: Entanglements of Aging and Dementia’ at Princeton University Press. During our interview, Lock explained how she initially started her project as a quest to understand the impact of genetic susceptibility tests on individuals, and had the good fortune of being able to follow a randomized clinical trial (RCT) in which offspring were told about their genetic susceptibility to Alzheimer disease. As it turned out, to fully understand the contribution of genetics to AD and the experiences of these tested individuals, she needed to study the concept of the disease itself. Her book has had a strong impact outside our discipline, receiving reviews in Nature, the Lancet Neurology and the New Scientist.

Part of Lock’s success can be explained by the topics she approaches, but it is also attributable to her capability to cross disciplinary divides. Lock explains that for anthropologists, it is essential to study diverse perspectives on the issue at hand. When teaching, she emphasizes that ‘if we want to do medical anthropology as best as we can, then it is important to grasp the fundamentals of the specific scientific or medical issue with which one is dealing’ in an interdisciplinary way. But, of course, anthropologists should inevitably incorporate ethnography into their project, whatever the subject matter – no other discipline will do this as we do.

AlzConundrum

Read the review of “The Alzheimer Conundrum” from the anthropology and medicine blog Somatosphere, by AAGE member Aaron Seaman

Her own engagement with ageing started with her outstanding work on menopause in Japan, where at that time no such research had been conducted before. She herself ‘fell into it sideways’ as she explained, influenced by work already going on in North America. During her career she has been inspired by numerous scholars but she was hard-pressed to come up with only one name; her formative period in anthropology was influenced by Geertz, Sahlins, Colson, Benedict, Mead, and later, scholars such as Haraway, Latour, Strathern, Allan Young, and Hacking. Moreover, having a biology background herself, she has always been attracted to think across the divide of biological and cultural anthropology, even though she remains firmly grounded in cultural anthropology. Nevertheless, already in preparation for her study in Japan she had become aware that medical anthropological literature had paid little attention to later life.

During our interview, she hypothesized that this might be related to our own anxieties about the ageing process, resulting in an avoidance of a confrontation with ageing as ‘we tend perhaps, not self-consciously, but unconsciously to be scared of the very idea of ageing’.

The task for anthropologists in the future is therefore not only to incorporate an anthropology of ageing into the wider discipline, but also for anthropologists working on ageing to cross the sub-disciplinary divides to make the relevance of our analyses known and to ensure a wider familiarity with our findings. This is a task, she proposed, that is set for the whole of anthropology in which geographical clusters and sub-disciplinary groups too often prevent analyses that go beyond their respective boundaries. Crossing these boundaries by communicating with media outside of mainstream academia is one arena that she anticipated as an essential direction for our discipline to take. I could not agree with her more, as we ourselves are responsible for making known the relevance of our discipline and findings, although perhaps I am a bit biased having a position at a multidisciplinary knowledge institute and in a medical faculty myself.

Lock has certainly been successful in this task of disseminating findings, and has published in journals with various backgrounds from anthropology to medicine, from law to epidemiology. Her advice for this kind of versatility and high productivity? Teaching students with a variety of backgrounds: “I learned a huge amount just simply by teaching to mixed classes not simply of anthropology students or even social science students, but that included basic scientists, would-be medical students, and so on”. This experience, repeated over many years, pushed Lock into taking a broader approach by showing her different ways of tackling subjects and of presenting them. One result has been the varied list of journals in which she has published to date. Her own commitment to showing the relevance of anthropology will certainly be taken a step further in the near future, as she is currently working on a popular scientific book on epigenetics with her co-author Gisli Paulson, to be published by Polity press. Given her track record so far, this is something to look out for!

Additional Links

Medical Anthropology programme McGill

A youtube movie of an interview with Margaret Lock about the Alzheimer Conundrum at the Agenda, TVO, the television broadcast of Ontario.

This entry is based on an interview conducted with Margaret Lock on 12 June 2014 by the Jolanda Lindenberg, AAGE member and Scientific Staff at the Leyden Academy, Netherlands