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Matthew Dalstrom, Rockford College
Jonathan Skinner, Queen’s University, Belfast
Portfolio: Winter Fires (large file)
Mik Godley (portaits), François Matarasso (text)
Over the years, AAQ has consistently published work that brings new insights and questions to the issue of “successful aging,” always with a strong awareness and acknowledgement of cultural diversity and context. Aging, let alone “successful aging,” cannot be understood separately from the dynamic ecology that engages it, and this ecology increasingly stretches across borders and domains of life. Volume 34 continues to contribute to the ethnographic work on successful aging with two articles examining ways older adults combine leisure, health, and sociality, in the process developing a new forms of agency and identity.
Matthew Dalstrom’s study of seasonal migrants shows how older adult RV communities have developed and sustained themselves in the Lower Rio Grande Valley through a combination of social leisure opportunities and health resources, including access to inexpensive Mexican healthcare services and prescription drugs. Dalstrom’s article shows that as these “snowbirds” become more integrated into the community, their identities and health decisions become increasingly intertwined with the landscape and timing of migration.
Jonathan Skinner (pg. 18) also finds “successful aging” to be a matter of social reshaping of time, space, and the body, although the ecologies being examined his case are the dance floors of Blackpool, Belfast, and Sacramento. Like Dalstrom, Skinner also finds leisure to be linked to both health and sociality, but through his keen attention to dance as a form of embodiment, Skinner also makes important observations about the ways dancers experience a comforting sense of reminiscence and nostalgia through their “in-tense” movements.
The first Portfolio (issue 33.4) received an overwhelmingly positive response from our readers, and the featured portfolio for issue 34.1 presents yet another unique and engaging set of works. I first encountered Artist Mik Godley’s portraits of older artists (pg.30) when I came across François Matarasso’s book Winter Fires: Art and Agency in Old Age. In the accompanying text, Mik and François describe the development of their collaborative project, making it clear that the art is not simply widow-dressing for this book, but part of a cohesive visual ethnography on creativity, meaning, and the life course.
As Editor-in-Chief of AAQ, I would like to again welcome Jonathan Skinner as Associate Editor and Joann Kovacich as the new Book Reviews Editor beginning with issue 2. I am very excited to be working with both of you.
Finally, thank-you to Sherri Briller for her many years of dedication and service as book reviews editor for AAQ. My first AAQ book review (and academic publication) was edited by Sherri, and so from personal experience, I can attest that her impact on this journal and AAGE will not be forgotten!