Accepted Paper:

aesthetics of care among the elderly  


Michael Rowlands (University College, London)

Paper short abstract:

to follow

Paper long abstract:

Curating a life as a kind of 'repair job' that serves to forget the failed bits and create a narrative of care for others is facilitated by the cared environment that finally relieves one of the obligation to sacrifice. The transformation into a 'living ancestor', venerated as a holder of memory, creates shrines of material culture that family and friends may visit in a state of some reverence. Yet a similar facility for the provision of institutionalised care promotes the continued life of a renouncer, able to break with the past and take advantage of change. Here the will to be free both rejects the past and also displays irritation with those who wish to ancestralise. One can equally imagine the irritation of children and others who find the elderly irascible and unwilling to play their role. The idea that 'things' do not belong to one or can be changed or disposed of at will has the added benefit that visitors may never know quite what to expect. This idea that there is nothing fixed about cared environments whatever the assumptions behind their provision aptly summarises this need to care for objects and for objects to care in the curation of personal lives.

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