Aging, agency, and Gwembe Tonga getting by

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Using a political ecology framework to explore the gendered nature of extended family support networks for the elderly, this article reveals the ways that older women and men negotiate their social and material worlds in the context of extreme ecological and economic conditions. The historical processes that shape the social and material worlds in which these elders move include development induced resettlement, postcolonial politics and economics, and catastrophic chronic illness and mortality of children. Drawing from ethnographic research from 1994 through 2008, the article explores how people living in economically and ecologically dire circumstances manage their social and material worlds to the best of their ability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-109
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Aging, Humanities, and the Arts
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
1. Ideas and data presented in this article emerge from multiple ethnographic field trips, of 1.5 years to 1 month, between 1994 and 2008. Fieldwork from 1994–1999 was sponsored by Fulbright, NSF and ODA (British Overseas Development Administration). The 2001 field trip was sponsored by the University of Kentucky; six field trips between 2004–2008 were sponsored by NSF grants 0236933, 0517878, and 0822840.


  • Africa
  • Food security
  • Household economy
  • Matrilineal
  • Zambia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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