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Aging in place in an age of migration: Views from the Himalayan Highlands

Departmental Seminar with Professor Geoff Childs, Dept. of Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis

Photo: Geoff Childs

Info about event


Wednesday 13 March 2024,  at 14:15 - 16:00


Moesgaard Aud. 1, Room 4206/117 and online via zoom

Demographic trends are presenting novel challenges for Himalayan elders who seek to approach the end of life in their natal landscapes. Declining fertility, increasing longevity, and the high propensity for young people to move to cities is accelerating population aging while diminishing family-based networks of care for the elderly. This talk presents data and perspectives from a new study on aging in ethnically Tibetan, Buddhist enclaves of highland Nepal with a focus on Nubri, a valley where Childs has been conducting re-search since 1995. The objectives are to interrogate the gerontological constructs ‘successful aging’ and ‘aging in place’ through the lens of Buddhist highlanders’ approaches to aging and dying. Research foci include challenges elders face when aging in places imbued with cultural meanings and social relation-ships yet depleted of potential caregivers by outmigration, the role of religious institutions and practices in supporting elders, how a combination of indigenous and outside institutions is arising to fill gaps in care, and how elderly migrants and their family members are adapting their cultural notions of care in new socioeco-nomic contexts.

Geoff Childs, Professor of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, studies the intertwined social and demographic dimensions of fertility, mortality, migration, and aging. Side interests include the historical demography of Tibetan societies, and collaborative research with human biologists on high altitude’s ef-fects on fertility, mother’s milk, and childhood development. He is the author of Tibetan Diary: From Birth to Death and Beyond in a Himalayan Valley of Nepal (2004, University of California Press), Tibetan Transitions: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Fertility, Family Planning, and Demographic Change (2008, Brill), and From a Trickle to a Torrent: Education, Migration, and Social Change in a Himalayan Valley of Ne-pal co-authored with Namgyal Choedup (2019, University of California Press)

(Photo: Geoff Childs)