Ageing and taking care of the elderly in contemporary Daiden (Northeast Papua New Guinea)
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology working papers 129
Halle/Saale, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (2011)
This paper investigates changing notions of ageing and the social situation of elderly people in Daiden, a Bosmun place located at the Lower Ramu River in Northeast Papua New Guinea. It is argued that 'new ideologies of age' are currently transforming local ideas about the social, psychological, and physical alterations commonly called 'ageing' in the gerontological discourse. These ideologies will be variously addressed as 'chronological age', 'bio-medical age', and 'psychological age'. By exploring changing understandings of elderhood and elderly care, I show that a rather positive perception of ageing, as based on emic or so-called 'traditional' worldviews, turns into a rather negative perception, as a result of adhering to new 'Western'-based explanations. Finally, I argue that these new ideologies of age influence local politics of age, eventually leading to a shift in the exercise of power.
Keywords: Papua New Guinea