Meet the 2020 AAGE Margaret Clark Award Co-Winners

What do we do when the two top papers both excel in originality, rigor and outstanding writing? We award them both!

The co-winners of the 2020 Margaret Clark Award for best student paper were Francesco Diodati of the University Milano Biccoca and Yan Zhang of Case Western University. Our congratulations to both of you!

AAGE’s journal, Anthropology & Aging has first right of refusal for winning Margaret Clark Award papers, and this year, we’re proud to say that both will be published this fall. Here are the abstracts of the winning papers for a preview of what you will see in the fall issue.

Yan Zhang

Yan Zhang is currently a postdoc research fellow in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard University. Her research focuses on aging, eldercare, family caregiving, and dementia. She is working on converting her dissertation into a monograph which is about the politics, practices and morality of family dementia caregiving in China. Moreover, she works with a Harvard team to investigate social technology for the elderly in China. She started interested in aging and caregiving when she witnessed how challenging it could be for her family members to take care of her grandma suffering from dementia in 2009.

“Cinderella Men”: Husband- and Son-Caregivers for Elders with Dementia in Shanghai”

Traditionally, women had the day-to-day responsibility for eldercare. However, social changes have created alternatives for men to take on what is generally considered a “female duty.” Particularly, as the prevalence of dementia has increased in China, men are increasingly becoming the primary caregivers for their kin. Yet, we have limited understanding of male caregiving. Based on twenty months’ ethnographic study of 60 men taking care of a relative with dementia, this paper examines motivations, practices, struggles and strategies of male caregivers. While acknowledging the gendered nature of caregiving, I argue that eldercare goes beyond solely social construction of gender roles and power asymmetries between males and females. Men—both husbands and sons—who engage in caregiving are motivated by love, affection, moral obligation, reciprocity based on past assistance, and property inheritance. Male caregivers’ care practices and their responses toward challenges vary from case to case, yet, these differences have less association with gender identity but more with cohort variations. The expanding home roles of male caregivers call attention to the social transformation of gendered care practices in China and beyond.

Francesco Diodati

Francesco Diodati is a PhD candidate in Cultural and Social Anthropology at the at the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy. His PhD research project aims to investigate the recognition of the role of informal and formal caregivers in the home- and community-based care services for seniors in Emilia-Romagna, Northern Italy. When he was just a child, his parents took care of his grandparents suffering from severe neurological diseases until they died, but it has always been taboo to talk about it in his family. All of this made him interested in researching caregiving and aging when he begun to study anthropology.

“Recognizing Caregiving Fatigue in the Pandemic: Notes on Aging, Burden and Lockdown in Emilia-Romagna, Italy”

In Italy, pandemic and lockdown have provoked potentially serious short and long-term consequences for elderly people with serious health conditions and their family caregivers. Families have needed to rearrange care activities with the closure of adult day-care centers, the suspension of private home-care services, being also concerned about the situation of their relatives in residential homes. This article examines interpretations of caregiving in late life and fatigue that come from the first period of national lockdown in Emilia-Romagna, Italy. The relation between old age and lockdown is considered with respect to global ideas and rhetoric about individual autonomy, sociality, and caregiving fatigue. I examine how the representation of the “burden” of caregiving in late age shaped the media depictions, and I confront it with the meanings of fatigue attached to narrations and stories from family caregivers and the members of a local Alzheimer’s Café. I will also focus on one life story of a family caregiver to argue against an idealized vision of family care that was reproduced during the pandemic. The text argues that the recognition of aging and caregiving fatigue during the lockdown met with pre-existing normative models and structural inequalities of family care rather than radically altering them.


We all look forward to reading these award-winning papers very soon and to congratulating the winners in person at future AAGE events (remember these faces!).

The deadline for this year’s Margaret Clark Award compeition is August 1st, 2021. Use the link below for more information.

Details about the 2021 Margaret Clark Award

List of past winning papers (1993-2019)


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