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Workshop on Ageing in South Asia and Europe in New Delhi, India

The international workshop on "New Approaches to Ageing in South Asia and Europe" has taken place at India International Centre and Goethe-Institut New Delhi from February 24 to 26, 2015. It was organized by research project "Ageing in a Transcultural Context" from the Cluster of Excellence 'Asia and Europe in a Global Context' at Heidelberg University and brought together international junior and senior scholars working on different aspects of ageing from a cultural perspective.

The workshop was opened on February 24, 2015 by Prof. Dr. Andreas Kruse's public keynote at the occasion of the Heidelberg Lecture 2015 which is annually hosted by the Heidelberg Centre South Asia. In front of an audience of more than 350 participants who had filled the multi-purpose hall of India International Centre, Kruse spoke on "Contemporary Images of Age and Ageing: Vulnerability, Strengths and Developmental Potentials" and highlighted his humanities-based approach. He framed the talk with a selection of piano pieces by Bach, Mozart, Schumann and Chopin played by him.

During the succeeding two days at New Delhi's Goethe Institut, Max Mueller Bhavan, four workshop sessions covered topics from the micro- to macro-perspective on ageing. The sessions included presentations of narrating old age and death; policy, institutional and medical perspectives on ageing; growing old in the specific environment of South Asia's cities; and the implications of increasing transnational mobility on care and family. Each session contributed to a fruitful interdisciplinary exchange with scholars coming from indology, social anthropology, literature studies and social work.

The second highlight was Prof. Sarah Lamb's public keynote on February 25, 2015 in the Siddhartha Hall of Goethe-Institut Delhi. The anthropologist from Brandeis University in Waltham, USA, critically analyzed the concept of 'Successful Ageing' through the lens of everyday practices of older persons in India. She argued that while the successful aging model promotes ideals of agelessness, independence, and individual responsibility for aging well, prevalent models of ageing well in India, in contrast, emphasize appropriate (inter)dependence within families, and accepting and growing from the fundamental condition of human transience. In her analysis Prof. Lamb highlighted that beliefs and practices surrounding ageing illuminate far-reaching social-cultural phenomena, including the cultural agendas behind national policies, intricate models of personhood, and profound social-moral visions of how best to live.