European Network in Aging Studies
The European Network in Aging Studies (ENAS) is an association of researchers concerned with the study of cultural aging. It facilitates international and interdisciplinary collaboration among Aging Studies scholars at all career levels, most notably in the humanities and social sciences. The network promotes academic research on cultural dimensions of human aging. Among others this includes research on cultural narratives and popular (self-)images of aging and old age and their histories, literary and other artistic representations of aging and old age, as well as collective memory, and media and policy discourses on aging and old age. Furthermore, it encompasses research on generational identities; intersections of age with other social categories such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion or belief, (dis)ability, or class; the social meaning and organization of life course transitions such as retirement or relocation; and people’s aging experiences in relation to (their) bodies and material objects. ENAS contributes to fighting ageism through research on cultural aspects of aging and old age.
ENAS was first established in 2010 within the framework of the project “Live to be a Hundred: The Cultural Fascination with Longevity,” funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research in the program Internationalization of the Humanities. Its inaugural conference “Theorizing Age: Challenging the Disciplines” took place in Maastricht in 2011 and resulted in a special issue of the International Journal of Aging and Later Life in 2012 (7(2)). In 2013, ENAS was launched as an official association (ZVR number: 298202943, Central Register of Associations in Austria) with its seat in Graz, Austria. Institutional founding members of the network are the Center for Gender and Diversity (Maastricht University, the Netherlands); the Center for Inter-American Studies (University of Graz, Austria); the Women, Ageing and Media Research Group (University of Gloucestershire, UK); the Group Dedal-Lit (University of Lleida, Spain); NISAL (Linköping University, Sweden); and the German Aging Studies Group (Germany). Associated founding partners from the USA include the Aging and Ageism Caucus of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) and the Age Studies Discussion Group of the Modern Language Association (MLA).
Parallel to the development of the European Network in Aging Studies, North American partners established the North-American Network in Aging Studies (NANAS) in 2013. ENAS and NANAS have since been sister organizations. Since 2017, the collaboration of the two networks has included a biannual joint international conference. With more than 300 participants, the first joint conference “AgingGraz2017,” held at the University of Graz and the Medical University of Graz, Austria, in 2017, was one of the biggest academic events in the field of Cultural Aging Studies based in the humanities and social sciences since its beginning in the 1990s.
In addition to academic events, ENAS also facilitates knowledge dissemination through the Aging Studies book series that focuses on interdisciplinary research in cultural aging and is published by Transcript. In terms of research, ENAS provides members with a platform for projects and has been acting as project partner in a number of research endeavors. Another key objective of the network is the promotion of up-and-coming researchers. This is realized through summer schools and seminars organized by member organizations of ENAS (e.g. Women, Ageing and Media International Summer School at the University of Gloucestershire, UK, and the Aging Studies Module at the Graz International Summer School Seggau at the University of Graz, Austria) and biannual awards granted for best MA and PhD theses in the field of Aging Studies.
In 2018, ENAS had more than 120 members from more than 15 different countries and continues to grow. Researchers and students at all career levels interested in the cultural study of human aging and old age are invited to apply for membership of the association. This can easily be done by visiting the website of the association, www.agingstudies.eu (ENAS 2019), and following the instructions provided in the “Membership” section.
Future activities of ENAS will include regional workshops of European members and partner institutions as well as joint conferences with its North American sister organization NANAS. Through academic events and other activities, ENAS will continue to support the institutionalization of Aging Studies research in Europe and beyond by facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration between scholars of all academic levels working in the field.
The authors thank Aagje Swinnen (University of Maastricht/University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht, the Netherlands) for her assistance in preparing this entry.
- ENAS (2019) Website of the European Network in Aging Studies. www.agingstudies.eu. Accessed 19 Mar 2019
- Swinnen A, Port C (eds) Age, narrative, performance: Essays from the humanities. Special issue. International Journal of Aging and Later Life (2012) 7(2). https://doi.org/10.3384/ijal.1652-8670.1272