Ageless: Reflections on Lawrence Cohen’s No Aging in India

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Two decades ago, Lawrence Cohen’s No Aging in India: Alzheimer’s, the Bad Family, and Other Modern Things challenged the ways in which we think about aging and senility, kinship and its undoing, medicine and the nation, language and the possibilities of ethnographic writing, and what it means to do the anthropology of South Asia. But its 300-odd pages contain much more, a palimpsest of adventures that beckons the reader down Banarsi alleyways to meet curious dogs and dog ladies, to the Ganga riverfront where boatmen arrive bearing messages from God, and into American supermarket checkout lines stocked with celebrity-gossip tabloids.

As part of a retrospective panel at the 2018 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, a group of scholars came together to look back on No Aging in India, to explore the milieu in which it was written and in which it appeared. They also reflected on how No Aging in India has helped to forge new openings and connections, either in their own research or in broader fields like anthropology, science and technology studies, South Asian Studies and critical gerontology. The following essays are edited versions of those papers, along with a few new papers bookended by Cohen’s own reflections on No Aging in India twenty years later.


Porous Reflections: Me, Aging, and No Aging in India by Lawrence Cohen
Nayantara Sheoran Appleton
Victoria University of Wellington

Chapati Histories
Sarah Pinto
Tufts University

Things in Time (Wild Realism)
Tobias Rees
New School for Social Research

No Aging in India: Then and Now
Rashmi Sadana
George Mason University 

Representations of Aging in the Contemporary Tamil Fiction of D. Dilip Kumar
Martha Ann Selby
University of Texas at Austin

Aging and Adjusting: Development Experts, Elders and Families in India (1940-80s)
Kavita Sivaramakrishnan
Columbia University

On Righteous Anger and the Forgetfulness of the Young
Bharat Jayram Venkat
University of California, Los Angeles

Aging in California
Lawrence Cohen
University of California, Berkeley

Edited by Bharat Jayram VenkatNayantara Sheoran AppletonTobias Rees and Kavita Sivaramakrishnan.

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