ENAS & NANAS joint conference

Sept 28 - Oct 1, 2022 , Bucharest, Romania

Narratives and Counter Narratives of Aging and Old Age: Reflexivity in Aging Studies

Associate Professor of Bioethics and Faculty Lead of the Humanities Pathway
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

‘Narrative’ is a travelling concept (Mieke Bal, 2002) that is also used by scholars collaborating in the field of Aging Studies. A ‘cultural force to be reckoned with’ (Bal, 2010:10), it is alive and active in the humanities and arts as well as in the social sciences. As Aging Studies scholars rooted in different disciplines, we examine the experience of aging through stories of others, real or imagined, stories that link us to our own aging. Such narratives include life stories and other first-person accounts as well as all sorts of cultural representations including literature, film, photography and other modes of representation that also narrate – such as numbers and figures in surveys, algorithms, and big data. Bringing together the multiplicity of understandings of what master narratives and counter-narratives of age and aging mean to us, this conference aims at looking at the different interpretations in order to discuss what narrative as a transdisciplinary mode can actually do. This conference will ask scholars to contribute with their understanding and analysis of ‘narrative’ to facilitate discussion on theoretical and methodological approaches. Together, we aim at challenging some of the prevalent perspectives on aging and old age such as the continuation of seeing aging as a social problem, or the old master narrative of frailty and dependency. What is the power of narrative in encouraging new perspectives focusing on older people’s diversity, their value to, and their role in society? As aging is the future for all of us, the conference will provide a ground for more appreciative perspectives on aging and later life created through the reflection on and challenge of existing structures.