Age: The Unacknowledged Margin

National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), Atlanta, GA, November 12-15,

For more conference details, see

Abstract deadline: February 1, 2009

This is the guaranteed panel of the NWSA’s Aging and Ageism Caucus.

The theme of this year’s NWSA conference–“Difficult Dialogues”–aims to
“examine how feminist intellectual, political, and institutional practices
cannot be adequately practiced if the politics of gender are conceptualized
(overtly or implicitly) as superseding or transcending the politics of race,
sexuality, social class, nation, and disability.”  Similarly, the conference
CFP focuses on how intellectual work is done “margin to margin,”
questionning what sorts of institutional, curricular and pedagogical
relationships Women’s Studies holds with “Black/Africana/African Diaspora
Studies, Ethnic Studies, Latino/a/Latin-American Studies, Asian/Asian
American/Pacific Rim Studies, Disability Studies, Girls’ Studies, and Gay
and Lesbian/Queer Studies”? 

The “politics of age” and Aging Studies are noticeably absent from these
lists.  Why?

Over 20 years ago, Barbara MacDonald spoke on a plenary before the NWSA and
claimed ageism as a central feminist issue.  3 years ago, another NWSA
plenary session and a special issue of the NWSA journal were dedicated to
aging studies.  So why does “age”–and the related fields of “Age Studies” or
“Aging Studies”–remain an unacknowledged margin within the academy in
general and within Women’s Studies in particular? We seek papers that
address this central question through a variety of lenses.  Possible themes
might include, but are not limited to:

*       how age operates as an identity category
*       why aging is “a central feminist issue”
*       how the politics of age impact the politics of gender, race,
sexuality, social class, nation, and disability
*       how the experience of ageism is inflected by sexism, racism,
socioeconomic inequalities and other forms of discrimination
*       how feminist theory and critical age theory might productively
inform one another
*       how feminist critiques of the assumptions that ground liberalism and
science inform age studies
*       innovative ways that Age Studies might be incorporated into Women’s
Studies’ curricula


Send 250-word abstracts or full papers by February 1, 2009. Please include
your full name, institutional affiliation (if applicable), mailing address,
and email address in the proposal. Email submissions strongly preferred.
(If you cannot submit via email for some reason, please contact the
moderator below.)

Erin Gentry Lamb

Department of English

Duke University

Box 90017

Durham, NC 27708

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