AAGE Member News- October 2016

AAGE members do exceptional things, and as part of a regular monthly feature of getting to know our members, this section will highlight their latest achievements. If you’d like us to include your news in the next post, you can email them to us at admin@anthropologyandgerontology.com, including “AAGE member news” in the subject line. Also, if you are interested in being part of the member news team, please let us know!

The member news team (that would be me) have been taking a well-earned summer holiday, but it seems that all of you have not. You just keep on working, writing, presenting and stacking up your achievements. Well, we’ve dusted off the pom-poms and ready to cheer for all of your successes! Here’s a start: Continue reading

Members: update your directory profile

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We encourage every member to add information to their directory profile and a link to a personal website for the AAGE website. A guide to doing this can be found here.
As other members do the same, you should be able to browse our directory for other members with similar interests and foster opportunities for networking and collaboration. (We hope to soon have a searchable system of member information for specific interests, but currently you can only ‘search’ for names)
Note: The member directory and teaching resource section is accessible only to AAGE members.
AAGE is also creating a members only teaching resource section. Please send me your syllabi, handouts, lesson plans, PowerPoints, grading rubrics, assignments, and other resources that you have used to to teach classes in aging and the life course. Also, specify how you want to be acknowledged when someone adapts your materials (i.e. “Adapted from Jane Doe”).
Thank you!
Linh An (AAGE membership coordinator)
and Jason Danely (President Elect)

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

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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

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

“Not in His Right Mind”: The Life course of Adoptees Diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder in the United States

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By Rachael Stryker

In spring 2010, Tennessee adoptive mother, Torry Ann Hansen, sent her seven-year-old adopted son, Artyom (Justin) Savelyev, back to his native country of Russia with a note that effectively said “Return to Sender.” Her reasons? That the child was “not in his right mind,” “violent,” and “mentally unstable” (Batty 2010). In the weeks that followed, the world witnessed a twisted version of “he said/she said” as government officials in Russia and the U.S. attempted to determine exactly what went wrong with Savelyev’s placement. Even months later,  the rhetoric would prioritize saving political face within economic and diplomatic relations, rather than addressing those factors associated with international adoption pathways that would drive a mother to send her adoptive son back to his sending country (Loiko 2013).

Continue reading

The Value of Intergenerational Storytelling

Photograph by Sara Thiam. Do not reproduce without permission

“This is really starting to get interesting, because I have lots of stories to tell!” exclaimed Bernice (pseudonym), a 95-year-old participant in the newly-launched Upper Peninsula Digital History Initiative (UPDHI) in Hancock, a small town in northern Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.  The tension in the air was palpable as the four older adults and four youth participants introduced themselves around the table in the conference hall of the hosting organization, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly.  In fact, Bernice, who turned out to be the project’s most captivating storyteller, insisted that her limited education level and current vision and hearing troubles would prevent her from being able to produce a video, and she nearly dropped out of the program.  But once the storytelling got started the mood eased and the elder participants filled the afternoon with moving tales and funny anecdotes covering topics ranging from war and activism to surviving the long, dark Hancock winters as children.  They were energized – and even surprised – that others were so were interested in their stories.  To my surprise, I left that conference room with a new perspective on the tiny town I grew up in – which I thought I knew inside out. Continue reading

The Importance of ‘Blood,’ Identity, and Intergenerational Relationships over the Life Course of Ugandan Children Orphaned by AIDS

Photograph by Kristen Cheney. Please do not reproduce without permission

 

“They are my daughter’s blood. I couldn’t watch my blood suffer,” an elderly grandmother in Uganda told me. She was referring to her daughter’s four orphaned children, explaining why she refused to allow the children to go live with their father’s clan – the clan that is traditionally responsible for the upbringing of orphaned children.

In my forthcoming ethnography, Crying for Our Elders: African Orphanhood in the Age of HIV/AIDS (Cheney 2017), an intergenerational, life-course approach helped me examine the way AIDS orphanhood has influenced child circulation and dynamic processes of kinship construction in Uganda.  I trace the sometimes-contradictory social, economic, and emotional effects of orphan circulation within and across family networks, highlighting orphaned children’s concerns with identity that prompt intra-family mobility as they grow into adulthood. In doing so, I show how orphan care in the age of HIV/AIDS is consequently transforming both fosterage practices and kin obligation, potentially jeopardizing children’s well-being and their ability to identify with the ‘blood ties’ that still form powerful tropes of relatedness for them – in spite of, and sometimes because of, AIDS’ tainting of ‘blood’. Continue reading

Time and bodies in grandparenthood

Physical exercises as part of an NGO health programme to build older people's strength and independence in Kagera Region Tanzania (Photograph by author. Please do not reproduce without permission)

Physical exercises as part of an NGO health programme to build older people’s strength and independence in Kagera Region Tanzania (Photograph by author. Please do not reproduce without permission)

After more than a decade of following how the lives of grandparents and grandchildren – two different generations- in northwest Tanzania have unfolded, it is increasingly exciting to think with the concepts of time and the body. How does time play out in relations with grandchildren as they gradually grow up from toddlers to young children to adolescents and young adults? What is ‘grandparenthood’ about in these different life-stages?

Time has long been at the centre of intergenerational analysis in anthropology. We look at historical time in the Mannheimian sense: the particular era in which a set of people are born; or demographic time: household cycles over time. In ‘Lifetimes intertwined’(Whyte, Alber and Geissler 2004), a special issue of ‘Africa’ on grandparents and grandchildren, several scholars engaged with new approaches to kinship, based on time as lived with others, analysing how broader societal transformations play into this relation. At the same time, Julie Livingston reminds us of another ‘temporal perspective:  experiences of aging are explicitly ‘bio-social: not only situated in cultural realms but are also about the changing body and its local biology. Separately each of these perspectives provides a specific view on generations and experiences of aging. But what would happen if we bring these perspectives together?

I am currently exploring these questions through the write-up of fieldwork conducted in northwest Tanzania (de Klerk in preparation), reading through stories and interviews. One of them that I would like to share is Consolatha’s:

‘These are my children, they came to see the visitor (me), One is ailing, he is 61 and the other is 68. They are the children I still have, I lost seven children. I raised my grandchildren, eight of them. Three have left me [to start their own lives], but five of them also died. I was about 11 in the time of Chief Ruhinda (who died in 1936), I do not know my age. I lived a long life but a life full of grief. My children died in a short time of each other. The graves are there [she points to the land adjacent to the house where the dead are buried to ensure generational continuity]. We could not even finish one year and then someone had already died again. We had a big shamba [land], but I sold so many parts of it to take care of them. [..]. I remain with three grandchildren but they are not living here, they have left. One is learning to be a driver, in Bukoba, the other one is married and the third one is in Mwanza. They left recently and I do not know if they will assist me. I am now living with the son of my son over there and with the son of the child of my daughter over there. They stay for company. I also have a granddaughter. She is not really my granddaughter, we begged her from neighbours, she helps in cooking, water and washing clothes. My strength has gone because of my worries. But I was still strong when I was raising my grandchildren, I gave them food, took out the jiggers [chigoe flees], and I beat them if they did wrong. If you compare small grandchildren and big grandchildren there is a difference. The small ones, they really are a problem, they cry when they want food and are dirty all the time. Big grandchildren don’t do so. You have times when they refuse if you ask them to fetch firewood through.

The narrative of Consolatha, elicited through several questions around growing up and growing old with grandchildren, beautifully evoked the notion of time together as shared. In the rural area where I work, grandparents have always lived with grandchildren, and grandparenthood forms an intricate part of experiences of old age. As the ever changing nature of Consolatha’s household composition shows, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren move in and out at different life stages. But grandparenthood has also been transformed. Increasing numbers of grandchildren grow up with their grandparents as main providers, for reasons including – but not only pertaining to – the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Shared time is about the making of ‘relatedness through living together’. Consolatha’s story shows how the process of physical aging brings a dimension of physicality to these experiences of shared time. At different moments in the life course Consolatha reflects on her aging body and strength: physical strength is needed to provide food to hungry children, and wash them, but also to discipline adolescent children. In advanced old age her declining strength makes her reflect on the absence of specific grandchildren and the presence of others who do provide care, but also show us how the aging body is being reconceptualised at a particular historical moment of time.

This jumble of transformations and transitions (to borrow from Danely and Lynch) show how a focus on time and the body complicates our thinking about intergenerational relations and the ‘qualities’ of care throughout the life course. Not only do we need to look at how intergenerational relations and the conflict and closeness within them are being shaped at particular moments in time but also at how these intergenerational relations itself change through time in the process of growing up and growing old together.

 

Works cited:

Danely, J. and C. Lynch eds (2013) Transitions and Transformations: Cultural Perspectives on Aging and the Life Course. New York: Berghahn Books.

De Klerk, J. Growing up and growing old together. Time and the joined life-course in northwest Tanzania (in preparation)

Whyte, S., E. Alber, W. Geissler (2004).Lifetimes intertwined: African Grandparents and Grandchildren. Africa 74(1): 1-5.

Josien de Klerk is a lecturer at Leiden University College, The Hague. She works on aging in the era of AIDS in Kenya and Tanzania, looking at informal care and self-care in the context of HIV. Her fieldwork is the basis of critical analysis of the politics around aging and care in the treatment-dominated AIDS landscape in East-Africa.

 

Read the companion to this post, The Importance of ‘Blood,’ Identity, and Intergenerational Relationships over the Life Course of Ugandan Children Orphaned by AIDS, by Kristen Cheney

 

 

Return to the Life Course CRN blog exchange

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
    affinity?

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: ferenc.kantor@gero.uni-heidelberg.de

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