Ageing, Agency and Health in urban Tanzania


International social gerontologists argue that population ageing will lead to an increased demand for health care and support services for the elderly, which can be hardly met, even in the most developed countries. In Africa, the study of ageing and health is a new and interdisciplinary field of research. Especially when it comes to anthropological research the field is not yet well explored. The present project aims to add new theoretical and empirical insights and thus make a contribution to the research field from the perspective of social anthropology. Particular emphasis will be given to the examination of the links between agency and resilience.

Drawing on the experience of our previous research on Old Age Resilience, the new project explores how elderly people live their everyday life in the changing Swahili societies of Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, Tanzania. In using a qualitative comparative approach, two topical and theoretical research priorities will be approached: 1) lived experience of ageing and health as expressed, for instance in living and care arrangements created in changing urban and transnational contexts; and 2) forms of agency in response to problematic situations in every day life.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Brigit Obrist

Project members (University of Basel, Switzerland): Dr. Piet van Eeuwijk (senior researcher), Sandra Staudacher (PhD student), Andrea Grolimund (PhD student)

Project members (University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania): Dr. Joyce Nyoni, Vendelin T. Simon

Duration: 04.2012 - 03.2014 (planned extension of 2 years)

The project is supported by an international advisory board consisting of Prof. Dr. Till Förster, Prof. Dr. Marcel Tanner, Prof. Dr. Elisio Macamo, Prof. Dr. Sjaak van der Geest, Prof. Dr. Jay Sokolovsky, Prof. Dr. Peter Lloyd 

Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation