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Report: Workshop on Ageing in South Asia and Europe

Mar 25, 2015

The international workshop on "New Approaches to Ageing in South Asia and Europe" took place at the India International  Centre and Goethe-Institut New Delhi from February 24 to 26, 2015. It was organized by research project "Ageing in a Transcultural Context" from the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context" at Heidelberg University and brought together international junior and senior scholars working on different aspects of ageing from a cultural perspective. This report reviews the proceedings of the workshop.

Conference Report

Heidelberg Lecture 2015: Prof. Dr. Andreas Kruse

The workshop was opened on February 24, 2015 by Prof. Dr. Andreas Kruse’s public keynote at the occasion of the Heidelberg Lecture 2015 which is annually hosted by the Heidelberg Centre South Asia. In front of an audience of more than 350 participants who had filled the multi-purpose hall of India International Centre, Kruse spoke on "Contemporary Images of Age and Ageing: Vulnerability, Strengths and Developmental Potentials" and highlighted his humanities-based approach. He framed the talk with a selection of piano pieces by Bach, Mozart, Schumann and Chopin played by him.

During the succeeding two days at New Delhi’s Goethe Institut, Max Mueller Bhavan, four workshop sessions covered topics from the micro- to macro-perspective on ageing. The sessions included presentations of narrating old age and death; policy, institutional and medical perspectives on ageing; growing old in the specific environment of South Asia’s cities; and the implications of increasing transnational mobility on care and family. Each session contributed to a fruitful interdisciplinary exchange with scholars coming from indology, social anthropology, literature studies and social work.

Participants of the international workshop "New Approaches to Ageing in South Asia and Europe"
Keynote Lecture: Prof. Sarah Lamb

The second highlight was Prof. Sarah Lamb’s public keynote on February 25, 2015, in the Siddhartha Hall of Goethe-Institut Delhi. The anthropologist from Brandeis University in Waltham, USA, critically analyzed the concept of ‘Successful Ageing’ through the lens of everyday practices of older persons in India. She argued that while the successful aging model promotes ideals of agelessness, independence, and individual responsibility for aging well, prevalent models of ageing well in India, in contrast, emphasize appropriate (inter)dependence within families, and accepting and growing from the fundamental condition of human transience. In her analysis Prof. Lamb highlighted that beliefs and practices surrounding ageing illuminate far-reaching social-cultural phenomena, including the cultural agendas behind national policies, intricate models of personhood, and profound social-moral visions of how best to live.

Additional Information

About the event

The workshop was organised by the Cluster's research project B19 "Ageing in a Transcultural Context". The interdisciplinary research group focuses on ageing in a transcultural urban context. It is coordinated by Prof. Dr. Christiane Brosius (Visual and Media Anthropology), Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels (Indology) and Prof. Dr. Andreas Kruse (Gerontology). Further group members include the doctoral candidates Roberta Mandoki and Annika Mayer, who are also strongly involved in the organisation of the workshop.

The research project closely cooperates with the research network "Europe and Global Ageing" initiated by the Institute for European Global Studies at the University of Basel. The institute's director Prof. Dr. Madeleine Herren-Oesch chaired the first session of the workshop in New Delhi.

Outlook: During the next summer semester, a public lecture series on the topic of ageing will take place at Heidelberg University. The "Studium Generale" series "Anders Altern – Kulturelle Vielfalt und Gestaltungsmöglichkeiten" will start with a talk by Prof. Dr. Andreas Kruse on May 11, 2015.

See the conference programme (PDF), welcome speech poster (PDF) and keynote poster (PDF) for more information on the international workshop in New Delhi.

Media coverage

Various media reported about the Heidelberg Lecture and the workshop, including The Higher Education Review, India Education Diary.com, The Pioneer, Mydigitalfc.com, and the Financial Chronicle.


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