In this panel we (re)consider the anthropological ways of studying age and ageing. We ask, what can we know through our existing methodologies, theories and practices, and what remains hidden? What kinds of new crossings should we reach for in order to better understand the complexity of age/ing?
Ageing is one of the biggest social challenges of our time. In western societies old age is often considered as social and economic problem that needs to be resolved, on the other hand, by the decision-makers, but increasingly also by the elderly themselves. Desirable ageing is mainly pictured as active, healthy and independent. However, in reality ageing adults live their everyday lives in different kinds of communities, multiple socio-material relations and diverse bodies.
Anthropologists are in a crucial position in understanding and disclosing the complexity of age and ageing. However, this may require reconsideration of the methodological, theoretical and empirical knowledge-making within the discipline. What can we know through the existing anthropological practices, and what kinds of knowledge and forms of expression remain hidden? How can new disciplinary and methodological crossings expand our understanding of the heterogeneity of ageing? And further, how can we ensure that the voices of the ageing citizens become heard in their communities and societies? In other words, can, and should, anthropologists become engaged more directly in the policy on ageing? And does this call for, for example, more collaborative and participatory ways of asking questions, or generating and transmitting knowledge?
We invite scholars both from anthropology and other disciplines, as well as people outside academic world to consider the new challenges of ageing. We are looking for lively discussions on theoretical conceptualisations but also on practical, applied perceptions, experiences and practices on what it means to become old in the 21st century.