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This panel will take a comparative perspective on the increasing significance of hope to older people when retired life may stretch to three decades. Retirement may create new possibilities for engagement and expanding experience, or represent a struggle based on diminishing resources and isolation.
How we hope is one of the most significant political, economic and social issues in the near future. The future does not merely belong to the young, and the contribution of older people to topics such as hope and transformation are often neglected. Lengthening life spans means that 'retirement' may last for three decades, creating an unprecedented potential for change or continuity, rupture or revision. For some, this represents a pathway to hope, an opportunity to re-set the goals of life, to become politically or environmentally active. For others, a struggle with decreasing resources and prospects of isolation.
This panel is concerned with how older populations envisage a future, develop new activities and respond to a rapidly changing and often precarious world. Practising hope may have to contend with unexpected events such as the impact of Covid-19 and its exacerbation of global and local inequalities, the experience of isolation as against digital sociality or the fine line between care and surveillance.
There are dangers in focusing upon older age. Old-age-as-other often occupies a symbolic space to the degree that 'when dealing with old age, these anthropologists become essentialists' (Hazan 2009:64). Therefore our panel will focus upon a comparative approach derived both from our ethnographic studies as well as our emphasis upon comparison as an epistemological process. We ask panellists to circulate their papers prior to the conference and make explicit comparisons during the session, to create a collective endeavour in answering these key questions.
Imogen Spray (University of Auckland)
Katja Seidel (Maynooth University)David Prendergast (Maynooth University)Jamie Saris (Maynooth University)
Andrew Dawson (University of Melbourne)