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Thinking through generations 
Rozafa Berisha (University of Manchester)
Alexandra Ciocanel (University of York)
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Karen Sykes (University of Manchester)
Mathematics & Physics Teaching Centre (MAPTC), 0G/006
Friday 29 July, 11:15-13:00

Short Abstract:

While some scholars consider 'generation' as productive for the study of social organisation and transformation, its critics view it as a homogenising category lacking specificity. Is generation still a fruitful lens to examine social change and reproduction in late capitalism?

Long Abstract:

As material and moral transformations reshape inter and intra-generational relations, new ways of understanding 'generations' emerge. The worldwide financial crisis of 2008 reconfigured autonomy and dependence in social reproduction by making younger cohorts more dependent on the care and assets of older kin. Climate change continues to pose questions of justice and environmental responsibility in generational terms. The Covid-19 pandemic, likewise, turned 'generations' into a locus of obligation and responsibilities of care.

Given the continued importance of generations, this panel invites contributions and reflections on generation as an analytical and emic category. Earlier anthropological studies noted how rapid shifts in the postcolonial and global economy meant that generation became one of the most prominent cleavages (Durham 2000), focusing on youth and children as a point of inquiry into intergenerational rupture and transformation (e.g., De Boeck and Honwana 2005). More recent ethnographic attention however has been guided by initiatives of generational solidarity, continuity and social reproduction (e.g., Narotzky 2021). In light of these continuing discussions in anthropological scholarship, this panel asks if generation is still a fruitful lens to examine contemporary social processes, transformations and reproduction in neoliberal capitalism, opening up questions such as: How have intergenerational relations been transformed in late capitalism? What anxieties and hopes shape relations between generations and social reproduction? How does generation intersect with other social divisions and arrangements such as race, gender, class and ethnicity?

Accepted papers: