It was a busy and exciting conference this year, with nine panels and dozens of papers focusing on aspects of aging and the life course (full guide to the meetings here). Our Interest Group was pleased to sponsor a panel organized by Tanja Ahlin and Loretta Baldassar, which presented new research on transnational care and ICTs by an international group of scholars. Tanja (pictured right with Maria Cattell) was also honored at our annual meeting as winner of Jacob Climo award from AAGE that funds student presenter travel to AAA and other conferences. Well done!
Other highlights for the Interest Group included a ‘speed mentoring‘ session co-sponsored by the Association of Senior Anthropologists, and organized by Celeste Pang (PhD candidate at U of Toronto). Despite the name, the event, which was attended by about six students and early career scholars and another six more established academics, end up being a friendly, casual oasis in the middle of a very busy and bustling conference. Thank you to Celeste and all the participants, and we hope it continues in 2020.
The interest group and AAGE also held a successful workshop at the conference, “Methods for Disseminating and Translating Research to Action Across the Lifespan“, organized by Jean (‘Jay’) Schensul and Narelle Warren. This featured presentations by Margaret LeCompte, Andrea Whittaker, Jason Danely, and Stephen Schensul, each of whom talked about some aspects of disseminating research on aging and the life course to different audiences or designing interventions to bring our research off the shelf and create change. Presentations ranged from using anthropology to advocate for community college teachers in the US, creating an exhibit of photographs taken by autistic children in Vietnam, and turning research on informal carers into a two-story tall artwork in downtown Exeter. It was great to talk to all of the participants about their projects and how to design research that is challenging and thought-provoking.
Every year, AALCIG hosts an “Interlocutor Event“, where we invite an academic or professional whose work we love to a conversation about their research career and broader topics of aging and anthropology. Past speakers have included Anne Basting (2010), Mary Catherine Bateson (2014), Margaret Lock (2015), Sarita Gupta (2017), and Sharon Kaufman (2018). Our 2019 guest was Prof. Parin Dossa (pictured right), from Simon Fraser University, right there in Vancouver. Prof. Dossa’s career demonstrates her long-standing commitment to understanding and improving the lives of women, drawing attention to the intersections of health, racialization, and migration years before ‘intersectionality’ became a buzzword. Through all of this, Prof. Dossa emphasized the power of ethnography as storytelling and urged us all to remember that “stories are never individualized”, but co-produced through our collective encounters. Thank you to Prof. Dossa for a powerful and enriching event.
As we do each year, the Interest Group worked with AAGE to organize joint business meetng, the highlight of which is congratulating the winners of the Margaret Clark Award for best student paper. This year’s winner in the undergraduate category was Olivia Brophy (St. Mary’s College of California) for her paper “Mayan Aging Ideals: Networked Care in the Turnos Model.” In the graduate category, our winner was Yifan Wang (Rice U) for her paper “Education of Values: Population Aging, Marketing, and Eating Independently.” In addition to a cash award, winners will be publishing a version of their papers in a forthcoming issue of Anthropology & Aging. Congratulations!
The AAA wouldn’t be complete without an Interest Group social networking dinner (below), where senior members and newcomers indulged in commensality and conversation. Anthropologists know the vital importance of food and drink when making lasting connections!
Finally, I’d like to announce an opening for Co-Convener of the AALCIG beginning immediately. After serving as convener for the last three years, I believe it is time to bring in new energy and perspectives from our members and especially to provide opportunities for developing leadership experience among the more junior members. While I am honored to have been appointed as convener, I also believe AALCIG might benefit from a more democratic process of leadership. On a more practical note, my current location in the UK has made it harder to attend AAA regularly. I will be advertising the call for a convener on our AAA Communities forum, and if you have questions, please feel free to contact me directly or respond on the forum.