Successful and Unsuccessful Models of Aging among Elderly Eritrean Migrants in Milan
Marco Gardini (University of Milano-Bicocca)
Paper short abstract:
By focusing on the life trajectories of people of Eritrean origin who migrated in Milan (Italy) in the 1960s and 1970s, this paper explores how multiple models of aging are elaborated, contrasted and renegotiated according to class, gender, and political positions in a diasporic context.
Paper long abstract:
Migrants from Eritrea constitute one of the oldest African communities in Italy, with a visible and significative presence in Milan. Many of those who arrived in 1960s and 1970s, to work, study or flee the war, have built their own life and working trajectories maintaining links between Eritrea and their host country for more than forty years, in very different ways according to their economic and social conditions and with very different results. As they approach or have entered retirement, some of them can enjoy the satisfaction of having achieved the goals they set for themselves and the expectations that were cast upon them by their network of social relations, whilst others look at their past as a failed opportunity and feel unable to meet the socially and culturally constructed criteria of 'good aging' and 'successful elderhood' that constitute dominant models. By focusing on their life trajectories, on the economic and social capital they can mobilise, and the many struggles they face as elderly people in Milan, this paper explores how multiple models of aging are elaborated, contrasted and renegotiated according to class, gender, and political positions.
Old age and migration: an African perspective