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Paper short abstract:
Drawing on 16 months ethnography with older people in a low-income area in Kampala, this paper outlines the ways that mobile phone use maps intergenerational continuities across distances and despite wider contextual shifts.
Paper long abstract:
This paper on intergenerational 'care at a distance' is based on findings from a 16 month ethnography in a low-income area in central Kampala, which is part of a global comparative study of ageing around the world. The majority of research participants in Kampala originate from Northern Uganda, either as long-term labour migrants in the city or people displaced during the recent LRA insurgency. This movement maps both location and life course; returning home to the village is an almost universal aspiration for old age, with the city often stereotyped as a place of 'youth'. Whilst older people continue to work 'Monday to Monday' in Kampala, younger people are described as 'the dotcom generation', increasingly exposed to Western media and ideas of individuality and consumption. In the context of 'dotcom', there is a widely held concern amongst participants and researchers that respect and care for elders is declining. In this way, social shifts related to long term rural-urban migration, displacement and globalisation pervade the ways ageing is discussed and experienced. However, ethnographically, it becomes evident that the same 'dotcom' technologies, specifically mobile phones, are also extending intergenerational obligations across distances. This is particularly apparent in relation to health and care, with regular phone calls and remittances between the city and the village. This paper draws on systematic observations of phone use and extensive interviews with older participants, both in Kampala and in their home villages, to outline the ways intergenerational continuities are mapped within and across shifting terrains.
Horizons of ageing in and beyond Europe: later life experiences in a (im)mobile world [Age and Generations Network]