2024 AAGE Conference with SfAA: Enchantment and Transformation

AAGE held its biennial conference in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) at the El Dorado Hotel & Spa in Santa Fe, NM on March 26-30, 2024. We adopted the theme of SfAA’s meeting—“Enchantment and Transformation”—and adapted it to our concerns with aging, gerontology, and the life course.

Is enchantment necessary for personal, social, and structural transformation? Forms of enchantment might be a fantasy of the next stage of life that propels one to a new status and position, or the playfulness which allows one to assume new subjectivities and ways of being in the world. How is enchantment part of different life stages, and how does its role change over the life course? Are some transitions more subject to explicitly manipulative enchantments through advertisements or public media, and how do people identify with and/or critique these images generating desire? What enchantments, such as sexuality or new social relations, might older people discover in their aging that are not anticipated by dominant narratives of the life course? Lauren Berlant suggests that enchantments are cruel, binding us through our desire into existing structural arrangements and narratives of the life course that do not work for everyone. Is this so? How can we harness enchantment, play, and dreaming towards social justice, belonging, and other applied ends?

We had an intense time of sharing and learning at the AAGE 2024 conference, held in association with the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The sky was beautiful, the food was delicious, and the company was collegial and interesting.

Tour of Carmen Herrera exhibit, organised by Doris Francis

One highlight was an exhibit of artwork by the artist Carmen Herrera, who loved every straight line she saw. Although she had been an artist her entire life, she only gained fame in her eighties (and lived into her 100s). The tour on Thursday afternoon attracted about 25 people. Many thanks to Doris Francis, a former AAGE president who lives in the area, for organising the tour.

 

Jess Bytautas
Sheridan Conty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A second highlight were the presentations. The winners of the Jacob Climo graduate student travel award spoke on Friday afternoon: Jess Bytautas on legacy activities in palliative care and Sheridan Conty on eldercare worker training in Ontario. There were other exciting panels organised by members throughout the conference, prompting discussions of decolonization of gerontology, disenchantments and re-enchantments of aging, climate change and aging, and the opportunities and limitations posed by concepts of epigenetics, weathering, and exposomics which have become more prevalent in health research.

A third highlight was the Saturday morning breakfast attended by about 35 people, including AAGE stalwarts and those new to the organisation. The photos were taken on the patio of the fifth floor of the hotel, overlooking the beautiful mountains. Thanks to Sherri Briller and Jay Sokolovsky for organising the breakfast. It was followed by a roundtable on “Aging Now!” organised by Sherri Briller and Aaron Seaman.

Attendees at the AAGE breakfast
Past and present AAGE presidents: Aaron Seaman, Maria Cattell, Jay Sokolovsky, Cati Coe, Sherri Briller, Doris Francis
 
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