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Cultural Narratives of Age and Aging

Project leader: Roberta Maierhofer

Research associate: Oana Ursulesku

Affiliated researcher: Barbara Ratzenböck

The research project "Cultural Narratives, Processes and Strategies in Urban and Regional Representations of Age and Aging"1 focusses on the interconnectedness of aging and cultural heritage in terms of rituals and customs. It contributes to the already existing research in cultural gerontology by focusing on how an understanding of aging is reached through an interaction with customs and rituals, both regional and urban, expressed as cultural narratives. In addition, these collective expressions will be contrasted with personal narratives that juxtapose individual and collective identities. The project is grounded in a theoretical approach developed by Roberta Maierhofer at the beginning of the 1990s. "Anocriticism" is an approach in Age and Aging Studies based on Elaine Showalter's definition of "gynocriticism," which enables an understanding of what it means to be "aged by culture" - in Margaret Morganroth Gullette's term. Germaine Greer used the term "anophobia" to speak about the fear of old women. Maierhofer uses the term "anocriticism" to express an interpretational approach that validates individual experience of age and aging in resistance of normative assumptions. Building on these preliminary considerations, two main research questions have been developed:


  1. How can processes and strategies of identity construction over the life-course be identified in terms of cultural heritage, and how do they influence both collective and individual cultural narratives?
  2. Which methodologies can be developed for interdisciplinary and intersectional research of individual and collective identities in terms of cultural heritage?

Besides answering these questions, one important project aim is also the broad dissemination of research results in order to support the development and linking of research institutions and networks in the emerging field of Aging Studies.
Cooperation and exchange with partners of the ENAS Working Group InheritAGE, an international and interdisciplinary expert group in the field of Age and Aging Studies focusing on cultural narratives, processes and strategies in representations of Age and Aging, will help achieving this major project goal.

1 Supported by funds of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Oestrreichische Nationalbank, Anniversary Fund, project number: 15849).


Center for Inter-American Studies
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