Remembering My Hat

8th October 2011

Conference notes: Theorizing Age in Maastricht

Here are the usual idiosyncratic notes from a conference I am currently attending. As ever, my additions and thoughts are in square brackets.

It’s Theorising Age: Challenging the Disciplines, which is the 7th International Symposium on Cultural Gerontology and also the inaugual conference of the European Network in Ageing Studies.

(cc d6v1d)

(I have walked over this bridge over the river Maas. It’s lovely. But the sky was a more ordinary grey.)

It’s one of the best conferences I’ve been to for ages. But I’m not going to end up blogging as much of it as usual as I’m having an exciting range of technical issues. But here’s some.

Opening Plenary: Kathleen Woodward Taking care: Population aging, globalization, assisted living 

Who cares for carers of older people? In the US home care workers don’t get minimum wage or overtime (the logic being that the state should not be intruding into people’s homes)

Famous case of a care worker, Evelyn Coke, who sued for overtime, the case went to Supreme Court. Lost. Died.

Highly racialised, with Black women caring for White older people [I think less so in the UK and also Phillippino, Polish? But still racialised, and increasingly so?] Global flows of care givers, transnational, globalisation.

book recommendation: Evelyn Nakano Glenn Forced to care: Coercion and caregiving in America

 New frontier of worklife balance is not child care but elder care [academic feminists finally becoming interested in old age as it starts to affect them] 

Film Paper Dolls (2006) Tomer Heymann,

(cc golauglau)

Documentary about Phillippino MtF transsexuals, working in an ultra orthodox community in Israel as carers to old people. In the evenings, performing a drag act together called ‘The Paper Dolls’.

 Asked what he thinks about having a transsexual care worker, one man said “I got used to it, that’s life”. He had asked for a male caregiver but by the end of the film he gives her a skirt and matching gloves. 

Are ‘men who are women’ forced to care? Their trans-ness is not incidental to their finding employment as carers. Looking after older people is important part of Phillippino culture, they say, [does this extend to men looking after OP in the Phillippines or is it something that is culturally important but done by women?]

 Both carer and cared for are acutely vulnerable in this set up.

Historical context. Since second intifada, no more Palestinian migrant workers. Came from other parts of world. Visas instantly revoked if fired, sent home. 3 Paper Dolls left Israel for the UK where is at least a path to citizenship

In the UK the drag act become ‘The Paper Dolls fromIsrael’ transnational identity included into their performance.

Frail Italian elders, migrant workers [paper in recent-ish edition of Sociology about this] – previously odd couples in public spaces like parks, becoming unremarkable.


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