NEW Member Publication: Transitions and Transformations: Cultural Perspectives on Aging and the Life Course

LynchTransitionsIt began at the 2009 American Anthropological Association meeting in Philadelphia.  There, founding AAGE member Jay Sokolovsky and Publisher Marion Berghahn announced the start of a new book series devoted to the study of aging  and the life course in anthropology. This series became Life Course, Culture and Aging: Global Transformations and we are happy to announce that the first volume in the series has now arrived!

Transitions and Transformations: Cultural Perspectives on Aging and the Life Course, edited by AAGE members Caitrin Lynch and Jason Danely, features contributions from several AAGE members. You or your institution can purchase the book from Berghahn Books here. Even better, there is a 50% discount available with this flyer if you purchase it by July 31, and instructors can have their institution’s bookstore purchase student copies at paperback price! (around $30-35 for students, though the cover price is $95)

For details on how to get this price, contact: Janea V Brachfeld, Marketing and Publicity Assistant, Berghahn Books, Inc.20 Jay Street, Suite 512 | Brooklyn, NY 11201 | Tel: +1 (212) 233-6004 | Fax: +1 (212) 233-6007)

The chapters of Transitions and Transformations  assemble some of the most prominent voices in the anthropology of aging and the life course with the latest work from currently emerging scholars and graduate students. This productive intermixing creates a dynamic look at where the field has been and where it is moving; each generation continues the work of the last, both mutually shaping and inspiring each other.

Transitions and Transformations is more than a key resource for research in the anthropology of aging; it is also a stimulating discussion between colleagues untangling complex questions surrounding generational relations, life course transitions, the politics of longevity, and the making of life’s end.  In a way, it resembles the kind of conversations we get into during Jay’s (in)famous AAGE dinner outings.  After all, it was during one of these dinners in 2009 when the authors first discussed putting their work together in this book!

Thank you to Berghahn Books,  AAGE, and to everyone who made this book possible!


Rapid population aging, once associated with only a select group of modern industrialized nations, has now become a topic of increasing global concern. This volume reframes aging on a global scale by illustrating the multiple ways it is embedded within individual, social, and cultural life courses. The volume presents a broad range of ethnographic work, introducing a variety of conceptual and methodological approaches to studying life-course transitions in conjunction with broader sociocultural transformations. Through detailed accounts, in such diverse settings as nursing homes in Sri Lanka, a factory in Massachusetts, cemeteries in Japan and clinics in Mexico, the authors explore not simply our understandings of growing older, but the interweaving of individual maturity and intergenerational relationships, social and economic institutions, and intimate experiences of gender, identity, and the body.


Introduction: Transitions and Transformations: Paradigms, Perspectives, and Possibilities
Jason Danely and Caitrin Lynch

Chapter 1. Changes in the Life Course: Strengths and Stages
Mary Catherine Bateson


Chapter 2. Narrating Pain and Seeking Continuity: A Life-Course Approach to Chronic Pain Management
Lindsey Martin

Chapter 3. Venting Anger From the Body During Gengnianqi: Meanings of Midlife Transition Among Chinese Women in Reform-Era Beijing
Jeanne L. Shea

Chapter 4. “I Don’t Want to Be Like My Father:” Masculinity, Modernity, and Intergenerational Relationships in Mexico
Emily Wentzell


Chapter 5. Shifting Moral Ideals of Aging in Poland: Suffering, Self-Actualization, and the Nation
Jessica C. Robbins

Chapter 6. A Window into Death: Euthanasia and End-of-Life in the Public-Private Space of the Dutch Home
Frances Norwood

Chapter 7. Temporality, Spirituality, and the Life Course in an Aging Japan
Jason Danely


Chapter 8. “I Have to Stay Healthy:” Elder Caregiving and the Third Age in a Brazilian Community
Diana De G. Brown

Chapter 9. Grandmothering in Life-Course Perspective: A Study of Puerto Rican Grandmothers Raising Grandchildren in the United States
Marta B. Rodríguez-Galán

Chapter 10. Care Work and Property Transfers: Intergenerational Family Obligations in Sri Lanka
Michele Ruth Gamburd


Chapter 11. Personhood, Appropriate Dependence, and the Rise of Eldercare Institutions in India
Sarah Lamb

Chapter 12. Membership and Mattering: Agency and Work in a New England Factory
Caitrin Lynch

Chapter 13. Life Courses of Indebtedness in Rural Nigeria
Jane I. Guyer and Kabiru K. Salami

Afterword: On Generations and Aging: “Fresh Contact” of a Different Sort
Jennifer Cole

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