Exploring belonging in a changing Europe, this panel centers on rural and urban elders' notions of self and others across space and place. Touching on emotions and creativity, the anthropological debate further investigates the interface of individuals with socio-economic and cultural processes.
After years of expansion, the European Union is experiencing an increase and shift in elderly people across both sides of the former Iron Curtain. Anthropological research demonstrates how populations become older for reasons unexplainable solely by medical advancements or modernization projects. Tied to global influences, the push for modernity generates changes in local economic, political, and social structures resulting in the movement of people over time from rural environments to urban centers, from sending to receiving communities, and vice versa. This movement - in combination with the emphasis on becoming 'modern' and 'European' - creates experiences of place and space that contrast considerably for those unable or unwilling to begin new modes of being and knowing. Recent trends on the ageing process outside of anthropology primarily focus on elders' functionalities within the biomedical mind-body dichotomy. Yet, anthropological research can holistically and systematically help to explain social patterns as reflected in the way residents elucidate how physical environments contribute to feelings. Subsequently, emotions emerging in different settings are affected by social structures or societal ideals. The cultural processes found in older people's narratives elicit insight into these social forces' influence on daily life and the manner in which a sense of place is created. This panel hopes to shed light on the following questions: What are the roles of emotions and narratives in constructions of belonging in a changing and globalized world? What is creativity's role in shaping individuals' senses of space and place within their groups and environments?