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Funding for research on place and ageing in contemporary African urbanities

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Riksbankens Jubileumsfond has granted just over SEK 4 million in research funding for an interdisciplinary project about place and ageing in contemporary African urbanities. Participants in the project are Catharina Nord (project manager), Lecturer at the National Institute for Research on Aging (NISAL), Linköping University and Andrew Byerley, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg.

The research project will go on for three years and has the title: “What places? What ageing(s)? Ageing-in-place in contemporary African urbanities: the cases of Namibia and Uganda”. The project examines spatial aspects of older people’s everyday life and ageing in the context of contemporary urban situations in Africa: Walvis Bay, Namibia and Jinja, Uganda, both major industrial towns. People in Africa age under rapidly changing social and economic conditions, and urban areas are particularly dynamic places. A point of departure for the project is that this complex web of spaces is intertwined with older people’s strategies and subjectivities. These spaces can be seen as ‘throwntogetherness’, in which ageing-in-place is a negotiation of diverse spaces (social, imaginary and practical/functional) in which the older person’s ageing emerge, implying a constructionist perspective on ageing. Existing research on ageing in urban Africa is scarce and does not acknowledge space as a factor in the construction of ageing, a gap the proposed project will address.

A qualitative research design will be used in fieldwork carried out in communities for economically disadvantaged groups. About 30 participants aged 60 and above will participate, including women and men, retirees from the formal sector and workers in the informal sector. Different data collection methods will be employed, such as interviews, visual methods and workshops.