Centre for Health, Technologies and Social Practice

Thesp seminar – Repelling neoliberal world-making: aging, dementia and iresponse-ability


Speaker: Joanna Latimer, Cardiff School of Social Sciences.

Date: 17th March

Time: 12-1

 Location: Social Sciences Building, Room 12.21

Abstract: In this paper I offer a perspective on body-world relations and care in the context of ageing, especially with regards to dementia.  The paper represents a chapter in my new book, “At the Limits if Life”, in which I am revisioning ways to ‘be alongside’ and dwell with ageing and the aged.  This re-visioning does not preclude finding ways to cure, prevent or alleviate those diseases that seem to be particularly associated with growing older, but puts them under erasure to emphasise the need to resist wageing a war on ageing, especially on dementia, and instead understand how ageing affects and threatens the modes of ordering that underpin contemporary capitalism.  Then, reflecting upon Kristeva’s theories of abjection, Canguilhem’s notions of the monstrous and Schillmeier’s work on dementia as cosmopolitical event, I will consider why contemporary late modern societies care so much about and yet fear growing old, perhaps even more than death, but also find it so hard to care about and look after the aged, including making ageing and the aged targets to be managed. Here, I suggest that something may occur in which dementia and even becoming old involves a form of repel-lance – what I shall call irrespon-sability – those moments and occasions in which the older person seems to be refusing and repelling others and the worlds they make together.  In this inversion of the usual ways of theorizing the relation between the aged and the world, in which it is usually thought that it is the older person who becomes monstrous and repellent, I argue it is the person with dementia who is repelled, and the environment in which they find themselves that becomes monstrous.  I then go on to revision ageing and emphasise the importance of being alongside the aged as a new perspective on care and late modern capitalism that others those no longer willing or able to be response-able.

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