2018 Margaret Clark Awards for best graduate and undergraduate student papers

AAGE invites graduate and undergraduate students to submit papers of interest to anthropology and gerontology to compete for the Margaret Clark Award. This award supports the continued pursuit of work following the example of Margaret Clark, a pioneer in the multidisciplinary study of socio-cultural gerontology and medical anthropology, and a scholar committed to mentoring younger colleagues. Published or accepted manuscripts are ineligible for this competition. Limit one entry per student.

Winning papers will receive $300, and the jurors may select papers for Honorable Mention with a free AAGE year membership. Winning papers will be given the right of first refusal by Anthropology & Aging and acknowledged at the American Anthropological Association annual meeting. Abstracts of the winning manuscripts will also be published on the AAGE website. Continue reading

Member News, November 2017

Last time, Member News was posted shortly before the IAGG/GSA meeting in July. And now, our newest round-up arrives just in time for the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting. Without further ado…

Cristina DouglasCristina Douglas graduated summa cum laude with her PhD in (Medical) Humanities at the University of Bucharest. Her research, she writes,  “examined the myth of immortality as reflected in Romanian advertising (covering the 1850-present period) in relation to medicalisation of old age and dying, new practices of dying, normative and successful ageing in the social sphere of action, and the neoliberal moral values of responsibility towards one’s body (as reflected in the concept of active ageing).” She is now beginning a PhD program in Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, where she was awarded the Elphinstone Scholarship. Working with people who have dementia, she will “explore the emergence and negotiation of personhood in the liminal space of living and dying in end-of-life (nursing homes) and palliative care (hospices) facilities in the network created by the interactions between humans (residents, their families, staff members and people associated with therapy animals) and therapy animals. In addition, I will explore related concepts such as choice, compassion, and good death as reflected in both practices, policy documents, and official discourses.” Congratulations, Cristina!

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Denise LewisDenise C. Lewis, Associate Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science and affiliate faculty in the Institute for Gerontology at the University of Georgia (UGA) has had quite the summer! She recently was named a Generations Faculty Fellow in the Center for Generational Studies, a research center at the University of South Alabama.

On top of that, she was awarded a $3M grant from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Gulf Research Program and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. According to UGA’s press release, Lewis and her co-investigators will “engage with Cambodian and Laotian families in Mobile, Ala., to determine how individual, family and community-level strengths and vulnerabilities contribute to community health and how individuals utilize social networks for formal services to respond to environmental stressors and disasters.” See the full press release here. We look forward to hearing how this exciting project develops!

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Janelle TaylorJanelle Taylor also received positive news over the summer…beyond her role as AAGE’s newest President-Elect! Taylor has received funding from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) for a new study titled “Health Outcomes for Patients with Dementia without Family Caregivers.”  This two-year R21 project will be a collaboration between Taylor as PI and colleagues from Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, and UW Medicine, Social Work, Anthropology, and the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology. Collaborators are Marlaine F. Gray, Eric B. Larson, Paul K. Crane, Elizabeth K. Vig, Stephanie G.B. Wheeler, Ann M. O’Hare, Clara W. Berridge, and Bettina Shell-Duncan. More information on the project is available through the NIH Reporter. Congratulations, Janelle!

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Publications:

Jason Danely (2017Carer narratives of fatigue and endurance in Japan and England. Subjectivity: Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 411-426.

Dennis Wiedman and Iveris L. Martinez (2017) Organizational Culture Theme Theory and Analysis of Strategic Planning for a New Medical School. Human Organization: Fall 2017, Vol. 76, No. 3, pp. 264-274.

Plus, the current issue of Anthropology & Aging!

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Hope to see some of you in Washington, DC, at the AAA’s this year. And, please, send me your news — about everything from jobs to grants to projects to programs to publications and everything (to do with aging, that is) in between —  at aarontodd11 (at) gmail (dot) com!

AAGE and Aging and the Life Course Interest Group at #AAA2017

AAGE is proud to once again partner with the Aging and the Life Course Interest Group at #AAA2017 in Washington D.C. November 29-December 3. We’ll be hosting events, panels, networking, mentoring events this year, and you can find ways to get more involved by attending our joint business meeting, where you can also learn about student awards, publishing opportunities and how to be a part of the new AALCIG advisory board!

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Don’t miss AALCIG and AAGE events at #AAA2017, Washington D.C.

AAGE, with its partner orgaization the Anthropology of Aging and the Life Course Interest Group (AALCIG) will once again be holding two joint events at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Anthropology in Washington D.C. this year. The meeting will be held at the Wardman Marriot Hotel, November 28- December 3, and the theme is Anthropology Matters! We will be compiliing our annual guide to the meetings (see the 2016 guide here) so if you are an AAGE member and interested in having us advertise your panel or event, contact our AAA liasons Jay Sokolovsky or Maria Cattell. Also, if you want to keep up to date or exchange information to meet up at AAA for lunch or coffee, use our discussion forum HERE.

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UNAM 2nd International Interdisciplinary Congress on Age and Ageing

The Second International Interdisciplinary Congress on Age and Ageing was held from June 20th to June 22nd, 2017 at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City. The event, organized and led by Veronica Montes de Oca, sociologist and gerontologist, brought together participants from numerous countries and disciplines throughout Latin America, Spain and France, to discuss autonomy, mobility and adaptation in aging. The field of anthropology of aging was well represented, as well as sociology, psychology, philosophy, geriatrics, design and the arts, among others. Continue reading

Finding community far from home: A student report of #AAGE2017

By Michelle Bentsman

I arrived at the AAGE conference in Oxford unsure of what to expect. I was a few thousand miles from home, standing likewise on foreign intellectual terrain. Despite my involvement in death studies, I am a comparative religion scholar in training, and I have only recently begun immersing myself in anthropology. However, any initial hesitation was quickly replaced by a mounting eagerness to engage with the ideas and conversations that swirled across our swift and brimming two-day schedule.

The first panel I attended featured fascinating work in religious anthropology and aging, providing an ideal bridge through which I stepped into the proceedings. Professor Uchibori Motomitsu of the Open University of Japan discussed the Iban longhouse communities of Malaysia, describing the practice of providing ngibun, care, to the dying. This includes the mundane, which one community member likened to “feeding a corpse,” leading into post-mortem rites conducted in the open corridor of the longhouse. Hom Shrestha of Laurentian University gave an overview of the Nepalese Bura Janko ceremony, through which the elderly are elevated to the status of gods through a series chariot rides into the divine realm. Shrestha emphasized their power to strongly increase the psychosocial well-being of seniors, urging such practices to become more widely integrated into elder-care. These papers pointed to the influence that imaginative and ritual foregrounding can have on end-of-life processes and attitudes, affirming the potential for further inquiry into aging, dying, and religion.

I was in very good company during my panel, playfully dubbed the “death panel.” Iza Kavedzija of the University of Exeter offered a meditation on gratitude in the lives of Japanese elderly, observing that in conversation, expressions of gratitude were often preceded by a space of silence. She concluded by noting that although gratitude points directionally toward the past, it is experienced in the moment, opening affective possibilities in the present. Heekyoung Kim of Seoul National University expanded on the topic of Japanese aging, discussing the methodical preparations for death undertaken by healthy Japanese adults. This, Kim explained, has the effect of transforming death into a necro-social project with a long process, rather than a singular event. Natashe Lemos Dekker of the University of Amsterdam addressed the legal limitations faced by dementia patients seeking euthanasia in the Netherlands, in which euthanasia is understood as a request rather than a right. She left open the question of whether euthanasia is sought out as an act of desperation, or as a way out of desperation. I was grateful for the enthusiastic feedback I received on my paper about the rising role of death doulas in the aging western world. In addition to having the privilege of meeting a formerly practicing death doula among the attendees, I was pushed to further investigate how such services break down across class lines and in different geographic areas.

[scholars] were immensely helpful, sharing their own experiences in the field and encouraging me to pursue my research further

In a panel focused on intergenerational dynamics, Nancy Burke of University of California, Merced, used the awe-inspiring murals of JR and Jose Parla, depicting the elderly upon crumbling facades in Cuba, to convey its changing healthcare system. These images became the backdrop–or in her Bakhtinian parlance, the chronotype–for the comments of elderly Cuban civilians, such as, “we live like slaves and we die like kings,” or, “I can see the doctor whenever I want. But once I get there, he has nothing to give me.” Fayana Richards of Michigan State University described how African American grandmothers, who often took their personal relationship with God very seriously, regarded church as a seed to be transmitted to their grandchildren. For these women, faith could provide a way out of street life by carrying the possibility of change at any moment.

In addition to some very sobering truths, the AAGE had a great deal to give us, the conference-goers. Alongside coffee-breaks, meals, and a very pleasant wine reception, I was treated to genial company and brilliant conversation. I was impressed and heartened by the scholars I spoke to, all of whom were deeply involved with the issues they studied. They were immensely helpful, sharing their own experiences in the field and encouraging me to pursue my research further. The possibility of future collaborations emerged, as well as suggestions for like-minded journals where I might pursue publication. I left with the sense of having tapped into a network of supportive and passionate people that are leveraging theory and community engagement as a means for social change.

Michelle BentsmanMichelle Bentsman is currently an M.Div. candidate at Harvard Divinity School. Her areas of focus include end-of-life care, ideologies of death and dying, and comparative religion, with a particular emphasis on Judaism and Hinduism. She has worked in a north Indian hospice, where she collaborated with doctors, nurses, and volunteers to develop a spiritual care program, as well as served with an NYC Chevra Kadisha (Jewish burial society). She recently co-published an article on embodiment and the unknown in the Performance Research Journal.

How easily does ‘care’ travel? Crossing boundaries at #AAGE2017

By Gina Crivello

Every time I attend an anthropology conference it feels as if I’m returning to a piece of home, having worked for the past fifteen years in the multi-disciplinary field of International Development and during which time I have been just as likely to collaborate with economists as with anthropologists. Concepts like ‘kinship’, ‘culture’, ‘affinity’ and ‘relatedness’ might slide easily off the tongue in an anthropological discussion of care, but I have learned to not take such discussions for granted. Continue reading

Member News, Summer 2017

As of January 2017, Iveris Martinez began serving on the Board Chair for the Alliance for Aging, Inc., the area agency for aging for Miami-Dade and Monroe counties in Florida. The agency provides a wide range of services, valued in excess of $35 million, to older people through a network of local agencies. Some of the services provided include congregate and home-delivered meals, adult day care, personal care, legal help and transportation. Through its service network, the Alliance also provides support, training, education, counseling and respite for caregivers, including grandparents raising grandchildren. In the past year, over 77,000 people received services through this network.

Iveris also was recently invited to speak and presented at the semi-annual meeting  of the Committee on Population of the National Academy of Sciences on “Aging and the Family among Latinos in the United States.”  The meeting was held on June 15, 2017, at the Keck Center in Washington, DC. In light of high disability rates for older Latino immigrants and the relative absence of data for understanding the caregiving needs faced by immigrant families, she noted the need for theoretical models and more studies, especially qualitative studies, to better understand the dynamics of familial and social support for Latino older adults.

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Aaron SeamanAaron Seaman began a two-year postdoc at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine as a researcher in the Department of Internal Medicine in August 2016. Working there with clinical and anthropology mentors, Aaron has been able to draw his interests in aging, kinship, and caregiving into new contexts, including examining how people and their families make decisions and pursue care in the contexts of cancer survivorship and palliative care. Along with research in the University hospital, he also works at the Iowa City VA with a group of qualitative researchers that includes AAGE member Samantha Solimeo. Aaron also was elected to the AAGE board as secretary in early 2017, and he looks forward to contributing to the continued development of AAGE in the coming years.

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Members also have had several publications appear thus far in 2017.

Transnational Aging and Reconfigurations of Kin Work, edited by AAGE members Parin Dossa and Cati Coe, has been published by Rutgers University Press. As the RUP website states, the volume “documents the social and material contributions of older persons to their families in settings shaped by migration, their everyday lives in domestic and community spaces, and in the context of intergenerational relationships and diasporas.”

Successful Aging as Contemporary Obsession: Global PerspectivesSuccessful Aging as a Contemporary Obsession: Global Perspectives, edited by Sarah Lamb, has been published by Rutgers University Press. Along with Lamb’s contributions as editor, the volume includes an introduction co-authored by Anna Corwin, Lamb, and Jessica Robbins-Ruskowski, as well as chapter contributions by AAGE members Elana Buch, Corwin, Jason Danely, Lamb, Annette Leibing, Robbins-Ruskowski, Janelle Taylor, and Emily Wentzell.

Along with their contributions to the volume on successful aging, Anna Corwin, Annette Leibing, Janelle Taylor, and Emily Wentzell had other work in various publications.

Anna Corwin’s article, “Overcoming Elderspeak: A Qualitative Study of Three Alternatives,” was published online this spring in The Gerontologist. Following a story by Reuters, the work has received numerous mentions in popular and news media, including the CBC, AARP News, HuffPost (formerly the Huffington Post), and the Daily Mail. It’s exciting to see AAGE members’ work making waves both in and beyond the academy.

Annette Leibing published an editorial on the emplacedness of end-of-life care in Brazil, “Hospitals: the place where most elderly people die in Brazil — the start of a debate,” in Geriatrics, Gerontology, and Aging, the journal of the Brazilian Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology.

Janelle Taylor had an article appear in the June 2017 issue of Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, a special issue entitled “Moral (and Other) Laboratories” and edited by edited by Lone Grøn and Teresa Kuan. The article, “Engaging with Dementia: Moral Experiments in Art and Friendship,” comes out of her work on informal non-kin relations in dementia and dementia care.

Emily Wentzell’s article, “Medical Research Participation as ‘Ethical Intercorporeality’: Caring for Bio-social Bodies in a Mexican Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Study,” appeared in the March 2017 issue of Medical Anthropology Quarterly.

Samantha Solimeo and colleagues also had an article appear in the same issue of MAQ: “Gatekeepers as Care Providers: The Care Work of Patient-centered Medical Home Clerical Staff.”

A hearty congratulations, everyone!

And we know that this doesn’t begin to capture all the great work that AAGE members are doing. So, please share your news with us: new projects, publications, positions, progress, possibilities…We are interested in hearing about all of it and sharing it with all our members! Email us anytime at aarontodd11 {at} gmail {dot} com. Cheers!

Contesting categories of age and youth at #AAGE2017

lunch was buzzing at the AAGE conference (Photo by Ebru Ozer)

The Association for Anthropology, Gerontology and the Life Course held its Biennial Conference meeting at Oxford Brookes University, in Oxford, United Kingdom this past June 8th and 9th. C The theme, “Culture, Commitment, and Care across the Life Course,” provided an opportunity to expand our perspective of the anthropology of aging by taking a comparative perspective on youth and seeking to explore the continuities between early childhood and the life-long process of aging. With a program packed with thought-provoking and relevant information, it was hard to choose what sessions to attend! Continue reading

AAGE at #SfAA2017

Past-president of AAGE Iveris Martinez spoke about her experience teaching in a medical school

AAGE was well represented at the Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, held this year in Santa Fe, NM.

One of the highlights was the AAGE networking breakfast, which provided an intimate social setting to discuss professional issues such as teaching and publishing.

Thanks to Sherri Briller and Jay Sokolovsky for organizing this event and all of the attendees for making it a success!

all photographs taken by Jay Sokolovsky. Do not copy or reuse without permission Continue reading