The 2019 Margaret Clark Award winners

The Margaret Clark Award brings a cash prize of $300 and honors the legacy of Margaret Clark’s work in socio-cultural gerontology and medical anthropology as well as her commitment to mentoring younger colleagues. In 2019, the award went to undergraduate student Olivia Brophy (St. Mary’s College of California) and Ph.D. student Yifan Wang (Rice University). You might be able to tell just by reading the abstracts below why the committee chose these two as the competition winners. Both of these papers are scheduled to appear in Anthropology & Aging this year.

Yifan Wang accepts her award from AAGE President Janelle Taylor

Undergraduate Award

“Mayan Aging Ideals: Networked Care in the Turnos Model” Olivia Brophy (St. Mary’s College of California)

Olivia Brophy (St. Mary’s College of California)

While there is a growing body of work on the anthropology of aging in North America, Europe, Japan, and a few other countries, there is nearly no work on aging among Mayans specifically or native peoples more generally (Alber and Drotbohm 2015; Lamb 2017; Mathews and Izquierdo 2009; Sokolovsky 2009). Drawing on fieldwork conducted in the San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala in the summer of 2018, this paper aims to advance an understanding of the ways in which networked care and agency in the aging process are understood within the system of turnos spoken of by those that I interviewed . By examining more intensely the ideals of the turnos model and the various ways that individuals participated in such a system, I hope to highlight patterns of caretaking and perspectives on aging among a population that has been understudied by social scientists. Increasing awareness about multiple care systems and the subtleties of different conceptions of aging challenges the predominant “successful aging paradigm” intimately associated with Western individualism and, more critically, a desire to live without aging (Lamb 2017, xii).

Graduate Award

“Education of Values: Population Aging, Marketing, and Eating Independently”

Yifan Wang (Rice University)

In the face of what the World Health Organization describes as “dramatic” population aging (2015), an emergent eldercare industry in China promises that the otherwise bleak forecast of population aging will instead fuel China’s future. This paper is based on my on-going fieldwork on the burgeoning eldercare industry in China. It dwells on such moments of “marketization” in which eldercare practitioners—ranging from market researchers to caregivers—explore the values of aging and eldercare. They introduce tangible commodities, habitable lifestyles, and investable futures to the Chinese population, while positioning themselves as pioneers exploring the uncharted waters of professionalizing eldercare in China. In doing so, they weave together the temporal schemes of demography, its lived present and the projected future, and that of the market, its values and education. I particularly discuss how Springfield (pseudonym, an eldercare corporation) advertised value of eating independently. In doing so, I seek to think together market values and sociological values of aging, and to understand what it means when China reconceptualizes its population from one that was overpopulated to that of aging.

Once again, congratulations to the winners and thank you to all of the entrants!

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Have you written the next winning paper?

We are now accepting papers for the 2020 Margaret Clark Awards, to be awarded at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association in St. Louis (fingers crossed).

Students interested in submitting an entry should carefully read the full description on eligibility, criteria, and the decision process here.


Co-chairs of the 2020 award committee:

Samantha Grace, Santa Clara University

Jason Danely, Oxford Brookes University

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