Meet the 2023 Margaret Clark award winners

The Margaret Clark award supports the continued pursuit of work following the example of M. Margaret Clark, a pioneer in the multidisciplinary study of socio-cultural gerontology and medical anthropology, and a scholar committed to mentoring younger colleagues. Since 1993, this award has sought to recognize and uplift the contributions of the next generation of scholars whose work expands and deepens our understanding of aging from an anthropological perspective and underlines the critical importance of this field for the broader anthropological and gerontological community. Congratulations to Alexa Carson and Madeline Anderson for your achievements! We look forward to following your work in the future.

About Alexa Carson, graduate student prize winner

Alexa Carson is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto, and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellow. She has a Master’s in International Development Studies from Dalhousie University and is the co-author of a book exploring youth homelessness in Canada. Her dissertation research examines family care for Latin American and Caribbean seniors in Toronto, Canada. Alexa’s article, “A Pressure Release Valve: South Korean Long-Term Care Policy as Supplemental to Family Elder Care,” was recently published in the Journal of Aging & Social Policy. She is the Lead Research Assistant (Canada) for the Care Economies in Context research project at the Centre for Global Social Policy.

In her paper, entitled “The unrecognized influence of class and housing: Intergenerational living and family senior care among Latin American and Caribbean immigrants in Canada,” Carson argues that Canada’s long-term care (LTC) system is ill-equipped to support its aging population, and this crisis intertwines with an acute shortage of affordable housing. These issues have a distinct impact on immigrant seniors and their families. Immigrants to Canada have a higher propensity to cohabitate multi-generationally, an arrangement often romanticized as an ideal form of senior care and a partial solution to housing and LTC crises. However, this research finds that immigrant decision-making about intergenerational living is complex and influenced by socioeconomic class and housing availability, as well as interpersonal familial relationships. Based on 19 in-depth interviews with seniors and family caregivers from Latin America and the Caribbean living in the Greater Toronto Area, this study uncovers three themes: (1) some seniors resist intergenerational living, preferring independence and downtown residence nearer to culturally relevant communities (2) cohabitation does not always provide sufficient or better care (3) intergenerational living may be structured by class and migration timing, with middle-class families who have been in Canada longer facing fewer barriers to this arrangement. To some extent, these findings challenge culturally essentializing assumptions about immigrant intergenerational cohabitation.

The award committee notes: This paper is based on original research among immigrant communities in Toronto. It explores a timely and under-studied topic. The committee found that the “immigration lens” is a fresh view on long-term care and important both theoretically and empirically. Carson makes an interesting distinction between families living together and senior care and in doing so, unsettles widespread Orientalist stereotypes about often exist around immigrant communities and intergenerational living. Carson problematizes the oversimplified assumptions regarding how immigrants conceptualize and arrange care for their elders. The paper is organized well and written clearly. The committee notes that the paper has important social justice and policy implications and is a contribution to literature on aging & migration. 


About Madeline Anderson, undergraduate student prize winner

Madeline Anderson is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto majoring in social, cultural, and linguistic anthropology with a focus on medical anthropology. Their passion for anthropology has led Madeline to consider pursuing a unique path in the academic world, aspiring to blend the worlds of science and art through a master’s degree in scientific or medical illustration. This work paper stems from an assignment in an advanced-level course taught by Professor Janelle Taylor.

“Nurses’ Experience of Ethics in Long-Term Care: Contradictory Demands and Generative Labour” explores the ethical challenges faced by eldercare nurses, highlighting the contradictions between providing empathetic care and adhering to care home protocols that require emotional detachment. Through the experiences of Emma, a second-year practical nursing student and Madeline‘s twin sister, it becomes clear that these conflicting expectations create challenges in delivering individualised patient-centred care, resulting in a devaluation of care work and institutional inequality. The repeated performance of emotional regulation and the devaluation of care workers’ subjectivities in care homes requires nurses to transcend boundaries by embodying residents’ sensoria, suggesting that care extends beyond the care home itself. The concept of generative labour is central to the paper, emphasising the importance of empathetic engagement in reshaping the boundaries of care and promoting the personhood of older adults. Addressing these challenges requires a critical examination of social and institutional structures contributing to the devaluation of care work and reinforcing inequality in eldercare.

The award committee notes: “Anderson opens the paper with a wonderful ethnographic vignette that draws in the reader and lays the groundwork for the remaining sections. The paper seeks to explore how nurses experience the ethics of care on-the-ground. Anderson offers us a rich and complex picture of how nurses navigate complex demands of care. Draws on “generative labor” to explore the demands of nurses in long-term care, especially those that are contradictory. Notably, nurses are supposed to be attentive and compassionate but yet emotionally detach from their patients. The committee found that the paper weaves together data and theory quite well, particularly Elana Buch’s notion of generative labor. Significantly we (researchers and scholars) sometimes we leave out the staff of facilities and focus more on the patients’ experience in our work, but Anderson reminds us the staff are people too and are integral to seeing the big picture. ”

Thanks to the AAGE award committee of Cortney Hughes Rinker (chair), Anna Corwin, Harmandeep Gill, and Celeste Pang for their careful work in managing the process and selecting the award winners.

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