In preparation for our joint conference, we are hosting three lectures by invited scholars from the interdisciplinary field of Aging Studies to introduce the conference topic from various perspectives.
The “Me” Beyond the Story: Personal Objects as Narrative Power in Research Interviews
March 4, 2022, 18:00 (CET)

Sometimes before the start of a scheduled qualitative interview, participants give unsolicited personal objects, such as resumes or photos, to the interviewer. Although the interviewer may mention the object briefly in the interview or the subsequent field notes, the personal object itself is typically not discussed in depth or critically analyzed, partially because many interviewers are unclear what to make of them. Consequently, personal objects in the context of interviews have been undertheorized and underappreciated. In this paper, I explore how unsolicited personal objects function as a type of narrative positioning aimed at expressing aspects of self and identity that go beyond what is possible in the interview. Using examples from interviews conducted during studies on suffering and generativity in later life, I consider examples of personal objects in the interview process and suggest ways to incorporate them in interviews to achieve a more equitable power balance between interviewer and interview participant.

Prof. Kate de Medeiros

Old Age and Modernity: Older People as Outsider Figures in 19th Century Literature
June 21, 2022, 18:00 (CET)

The acceleration of change since the early 19th century, the fact that everything ‘old’ (political systems, values, norms, customs, fashions) appears to be replaced by something ‘new’, is probably a contributory factor to a cult of youth and the marginalization of older people. This paper focuses on figures of oldness representative of ‘modernity’, i.e. referring to what contemporary authors understood as the ‘spirit of the age’ as well as to manifestations of a long-term cultural narrative whose driving forces continue to affect the present. Terms like ‘revolution’, ‘progress’, or ‘modernity’ point to profound transformations in society and everyday life, with special consequence for the sense of living in time and the status of older people. These terms have also inspired counter-narratives of alternative existences with other experiences of time on the outsides of standard life, where we often find old age. The examples, taken from Western literature, gravitate around France, Paris being in Benjamin’s view, “the capital of modernity”.

Prof. Margery Vibe Skagen

The story of dementia prevention – Anticipating the healthy future in everyday life
September 5, 2022, 18:00 (CET)

Dementia prevention as a topic in the media is becoming more and more popular. In addition, scientific discussions promote early detection or even pre-symptomatic prognosis of Alzheimer’s disease as part of dementia prevention, while, so far, efficient therapy is missing. Moreover, dementia prevention is closely entangled with concepts of healthy aging. In my talk, I will elicit preliminary insights from an international joint project. In this project, we examine how dementia prevention is perceived, communicated, and framed by different stakeholders using ethical and socio-cultural analytical lenses. We currently are conducting interviews with experts, patient advocates, and health care service providers in Germany, Canada, and Switzerland. Our analysis will focus on how the implicit norms and concepts – that are embedded in notions of dementia prevention – are situated in cultural or personal practices and narratives.

Prof. Silke Schicktanz


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