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Accepted Paper:

Age & Work: an ethnographic perspective from Kampala, Uganda  
Charlotte Hawkins (Max Planck Institute)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing from an ethnography with older people working in a diverse neighbourhood in Kampala, Uganda, this paper addresses the assumption of old age as a time of rest and retirement. This presents an important counter perspective within this comparative panel on the possibilities of retirement.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing from a 16-month ethnography with older people living and working in a diverse neighbourhood in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, this paper addresses the assumption of old age as a time of rest and retirement. Many participants in their 40s, 50s, 60s and above have on-going care and financial responsibilities for their children, grandchildren, their elderly parents in rural areas, and themselves. They often discussed plans to move back home as soon as possible, and in the meantime maintain regular phone contact with older relatives living at home, sending them remittances via mobile money. Despite often providing care for both older and younger generations, many participants stated a preference to avoid ‘becoming a burden’ on their children’s already stretched time and resources, a familiar refrain encountered by the ‘Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart ageing’ team in their various fieldsites around the world. Like 78% of people living in Kampala, they often run self-owned businesses started with personal savings, often based on trade and relying on physical work. Without social protection, livelihoods can compromise health, and health can compromise livelihoods, a particular consideration as people age and their health declines. By ethnographically focusing on older people’s situated perspectives on managing uncertainty around health, work, social protection and family responsibility, this paper will present an important counter perspective within this comparative panel on the possibilities of retirement. Arguably this is an increasingly pertinent perspective, as public services are de-invested, and older populations and cities grow around the world.

Panel P107a
The Transformation of Hope in Retirement I
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -