Preliminary abstract: Rwanda is currently in the midst of a major demographic transition due to population aging. In terms of 'enabling environments' for older persons (aged 60 and over), Rwanda was ranked as thirteenth in the world, and first in Africa in 2014. At the same time, social and demographic shifts such as increased rates of parental mobility, urbanization, and orphanhood are catapulting older persons into becoming late-life caregivers to parentless grandchildren and unrelated orphans, as opposed to receivers of care in old age. Older persons (many of whom were in the prime of life during the 1994-genocide) are providing care while also grappling with notions of collectivity, conceptions of kinship outside biological ties and memories of violence as Rwanda moves forward from its complex past. The overarching goal of my research project is to analyze the ways older persons are 'keeping families together,' in the wake of rapid social change after the genocide. I will achieve my goal by conducting twelve months of ethnographic research in central (peri-urban) and eastern (rural) Rwanda by documenting the challenges of growing old in post-genocide Rwanda, the contributions older men and women are making to local society and the strategies older persons deploy in order to sustain family ties. By putting older Rwandans - an understudied demographic group - at the forefront of its analysis, this research enriches and bridges anthropological literatures on caregiving, aging, family-level resilience and healing in the aftermath of conflict.
Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
Sadruddin, Aalyia, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Late-Life Caregiving and Aging in Post-Genocide Rwanda,' supervised by Dr. Catherine Panter-Brick