Several CABS members are in Maastricht this week, taking part in the 7th International Symposium on Cultural Gerontology which is also the inaugural conference of the European Network in Ageing Studies. The title of the conference is Theorizing Age: Challenging the Disciplines and you can see the conferenc programme and all the abstracts here.
It's a conference that many CABS members have a soft spot for. We even went so far as to host it ourselves back in 2005. CABS has a symposium later this afternoon 'Critical reflections on biography and biographical methods' as well as CABS members having presented in other streams (because so many of us wanted to come that we couldn't all fit in one panel).
I've been periodically taking notes throughout, but there have been far too many interesting things to write them all up here (although there is more over on my personal blog, rememberingmyhat, if you are interested). What follows is some notes from just a few of the sessions that I thought might be of general interest.
[Debbie Laliberte Rudman, The University of Western Ontario, Canada]
... ‘positive aging’ discourses [can be] conceptualized as technologies of government. Such discourses enlist aging citizens in a duty to age well through shaping and idealizing possibilities for identity and activity. This [...] raises concerns regarding ways ‘positive aging’ discourses create demands for ‘aging well’ which are differentially achievable and narrowly defined.
[Thibauld Moulaert, K.U. Leuven, Belgium]
...International discourses of AA have slowly moved from a general framework supporting many dimensions of ageing toward a concentration of the active side, thanks to the confusing notion of "activity". Would it be possible that this trend consequently neglects some major aspects of ageing like its diversity and inequality? [yes!]
I also went to a paper about cultural representations of the ageing of Lemmy from Motorhead. It was by Magnus Nilsson from Karlstad University, Sweden. I won't try to cover everything he said, just pick out some bits I was particularly interested in. Lemmy (or rather, Lemmy in his fans' imaginations) is the antithesis of healthy ageing. He's still drinking and taking drugs and having as wild a life as ever. In the famous song Ace of Spades he has apparently changed a clause so he now sings 'I don't wanna live forever ... but apparently I am'. His fans view him as indestructible, telling a joke that only two things will survive a nuclear holocaust, cockroaches and Lemmy.