Ageing alterities: New horizons for anthropology of ageing and the life-course

Slow online conference of the EASA’s Age and Generations Network

October-November 2021, on Zoom

The conference is free and open to all, but registration is required under this link (scroll down the linked page to find the registration form!)

“It’s a long long road that ends at the horizon, and there it continues….  You don’t know if something is there…it is different there from what you know and it changes, you know, the … colors change, it’s really an adventure, but you have to keep moving.” 
The artwork is by Gerard V, a research collaborator at Christine Verbruggen’s project

In this slow online conference organised by the EASA Age and Generations Network, we will explore new horizons for the anthropology of ageing by reflecting on different forms of intergenerational participation and alternative ways to frame ageing experiences within new social, cultural, political, and technological contexts. We will explore different ways of involving various audiences and a wide range of participants. This will include discussions on anthropological engagement with new methods (visual, sensorial, digital and play!), in and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

Two new larger AGENET initiatives will be launched at this conference. First will be the formal establishment of our new Ethics Collective. The Ethics Collective of AGENET will hold an interactive workshop to think about how we, as anthropologists of ageing and generations, can collectively address the ethical challenges that we encounter in our ethnographic work with older adults who live with cognitively impaired conditions. Second, we will launch the inaugural AGENET/VANEASA/AAGE Award for Best Visual Ethnographic Material related to ageing. Join us to see who will be awarded this year’s prizes and view selected submissions on AGENET website. We hope this award and exhibition will open the debate on how ageing and the life-course can be explored through the emergent and creative methods.  

We hope that the series of plenary talks, workshops, exhibitions, and keynotes will provoke more inclusive approaches to ageing imaginaries that evoke the complex assemblages of care, control, relatedness, hope and experimentation within and across generations and the life-course.



The first week of the slow conference will feature a keynote lecture and participatory workshop about play and leisure in later life. Both events will be delivered by Dr Carrie Ryan.

Conference Keynote:Ageing Playfully: Notes on an Anthropology of Play and Games in Old Age [Speaker: Dr Carrie Ryan]

27 October (Wed) 5 pm CET/ 4 pm BST (60min)

This talk calls for renewed anthropological attention to the social importance of play and games in old age. Though many older adults spend their retirement playing games, few studies emphasize the centrality of these activities in later life. In acknowledging the prevalence of playful ageing, this talk suggests that anthropology will not only more faithfully attend to older adult lives as they are lived, but, in doing so, will also powerfully extend its challenge of ageism by showcasing how older adults remain creative, dynamic, and lively as they age. 

Week 1 Workshop: Play as Frame: Reflecting on Fieldwork through the Lens of Play [Facilitator: Dr Carrie Ryan]

29 October (Fri) 3pm CET/ 2 pm BST (90 min)

This workshop invites attendees to think about the place of play in their fieldwork. This workshop will begin with a quick overview of past theorizations of play. Attendees will then be asked to discuss, in small groups, how their fieldwork experiences with older adults either reflect, complicate, or advance past theorizations of play. The workshop will end with a group discussion about the new directions play opens for ageing research as well as the possibility for future collaborations.  


The second week of the slow conference will involve two sessions related to anthropological research on/during Covid-19. Dr Erica Borgstrom will open the plenary session, which will be followed by a workshop organized by Dr Matthew Lariviere.

Week 2 Plenary: Narratives of COVID: Loss, Dying, Death and Grief during COVID-19 [Speaker: Dr Erica Borgstrom, presenting on behalf of herself and co-editor, Dr Sharon Mallon)

 3rd November (Wed), 3pm CET/ 2 pm GMT (60 min)

The COVID-19 pandemic brought death and grief to the forefront of the news and people’s daily experiences, often highlighting the isolated and individualised experiences of grief due to lockdowns and impacted funerary practices. As scholars interested in death studies, we are aware of the shifting experiences and expectations that people had throughout the pandemic. This Open University funded project, set out to capture the diverse, lived experience of our students, alumni and staff during the pandemic in relation to the themes of death, dying, bereavement, grief and loss. In this presentation, we discuss some of the themes that emerged in relation to the network’s interest in age and generations.

Week 2 Workshop:  Anthropological research on ageing and generations during Covid-19: Reflections and provocations for future fieldwork, [Facilitator: Dr Matthew Lariviere]

 5th November 2021 (Fri), 3pm CET/ 2 pm GMT (90 min)

This workshop will explore challenges and opportunities for anthropological research focused on ageing and generations during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. AGENET members are invited to share their individual experiences on a digital board to illustrate how they worked with older people and other interlocutors during the pandemic. Such experiences will enable AGENET to discover what has and has not worked during the early stages of the pandemic. We hope to develop narratives to highlight variegated practices and provoke debates about future possibilities of ethnographic sensibilities and fieldwork with older people.


The third week will involve a workshop about how to make the ethics of fieldwork with older and cognitively impaired participants more inclusive. This workshop is part of the AGENET’s larger Ethics Collective initiative launched to support researchers in addressing ethical issues they encounter during ethnographic work with cognitively impaired people in Europe and beyond.

Week 3 Workshop: Ethical issues in ethnographic research with older adults living with cognitively impairing conditions: challenges and solutions, [Facilitators: Cristina Douglas, Barbara Pieta, Dr Matthew Lariviere and Professor Maria Vesperi]

24 November (Wed) 4pm CET/ 3pm GMT (120 min)

We will start the workshop by breaking into small working groups.  Each group will discuss a concrete situation which created an ethical issue during ethnographic research with participants who live with cognitively impairing condition. In the second part of the workshop, we will reunite in the main room and discuss each situation in dialogue with the researcher directly involved in the debated case.

 The problems and solutions identified during this workshop will become a collective repository (on AGENET website) and could be used in the future as a source of inspiration and help for fellow anthropologists/anyone using ethnographic methods with older adults living with a cognitively impairing condition. The organizers will make sure that the workshop provides a collaborative and supportive environment. The workshop is open to all. However, if you would like to present your case during this workshop, please respond to this call for case studies, by 5th November.


The fourth week will focus on multi-modal, creative, and visual methods in anthropological research on ageing. The week will feature the inaugural keynote by Professor Paolo Favero, the launching of the AGENET, VANEASA and AAGE (AVA) Award for Best Visual Ethnographic Material and the awarding of prize(s) from the judges, the event facilitated by Barbara Pieta.

AVA Award Inaugural Keynote: On Ageing, Dying and Politics and Ethics of Shared Exposure in Film and other Media [Speaker: Professor Paolo Favero]

29th November (Mon) 4pm CET/ 3 pm GMT (90 min)

In this talk, Professor Paolo Favero draws on his recent visual, sensorial and experiential ethnographic work to explore shelters in New Dehli. Through this material, he will discuss issues related to ageing, loving, and dying with the politics and ethics of shared exposure.

AVA Award – Awarding the Prizes and Presentations [Facilitator: Barbara Pieta]

1st December (Wed) 3pm CET/ 2 pm GMT (90 min)

This event will celebrate the launching of the inaugural AVA Award for Best Visual Ethnographic Material. Join us to celebrate the awarding of the prizes to the most esteemed entries of the AVA 2021 competition. Selected works will be showcased (in accordance with copyrights) on the AGENET website, and the authors invited to present and discuss their work.

We hope you enjoy the conference over the coming two months!