Book Review: Resilience and Ageing: Creativity, Culture and Community

Leslie Carlin
2020 Anthropology & Aging  
Caveat: I am slightly suspicious of 'resilience', because I worry about the concept's potential subtly to blame sufferers, for their failure to resist suffering. In the introduction to this edited volume, Resilience and Ageing, however, the editors allay my concern to a certain extent. "Resilience" here, is defined as a "combination of environmental factors and individual traits; a negotiated process," rather than an intrinsic characteristic that one either can or cannot perform in the face of
more » ... orm in the face of hardship (1-2). I continued reading with cautious enthusiasm, hoping to understand how this "negotiated process" intersects with creativity and ageing. Now we have gathered in the spirit of full disclosure, I can reveal my professional and personal subjectivity: I am myself an ageing anthropologist, who enjoys indulging her creative side. In the Introduction, one of the editors, Anna Goulding, describes the book's themes as: resilience, creativity, culture, and ageing. The projects covered in the eleven book chapters, show very different approaches to all of these themes, and cover various forms of creative activity, including storytelling, drama, mapping, lace-making and gardening. They converge, however, around a similar participatory methodology: all the projects the chapters describe rely on participatory means of creating, communitybuilding ánd generating and analyzing data, so that both process and product are co-created by investigators and participants, in this case, older adults. Six of the eleven papers in this volume, describe projects based in England and Wales, and most of those, surprisingly, in the northern parts of those countries. All chapters bar two represent the English-speaking world: Canada, the United States, Australia, besides Chile and Poland. The editors grouped the papers into three rough categories that might be glossed as "arts" ( Goulding; Bernard et al.; de Medeiros and Swinnen; Newman et al.), "community" (Schmidt et al.; Fang et al.; Bailey et al.) and "things" (Reynolds; Sznajder and Kosmala; Manchester; Miller et al.). References and responses to an article by Wild et al. (2013) , "Resilience: thoughts on the value of the concept for critical gerontology," are a thread through nearly all the chapters.
doi:10.5195/aa.2020.263 fatcat:h6323ylpljhvjhtw4vmg6enxnm