X Close

Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing Blog


Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing


Reducing Hypertension in Trinidad and Tobago

By alex.clegg, on 4 August 2022

Author: Daniel Miller

The research project Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing which is now close to completion was always intended to also develop some practical projects to improve the welfare of the populations where we carried out our research. Many of the deaths that resulted from Covid in Trinidad and Tobago came through co-morbidities with diabetes and hypertension. Anthropological research by Trinidadian anthropologist Sheba Mohammid along with Daniel Miller suggested that while people were knowledgeable about diabetes, the contribution of salt to hypertension was largely unknown. We also found that most health campaigns in the area had received very few responses even when backed up by companies and government and that over the half the population were anti Covid vaccinations. We therefore tried to create our own independent campaign based on what we had learnt from our anthropological research including understanding the reasons behind anti-vaccination. For example, trying to focus on positive and creative possibilities rather than negative messages. We called the result our Chef It Up TT campaign.

The first phase of this campaign which ended on July 31st was a competition around healthy eating. Thanks to the indefatigable Sheba Mohammid and her team this produced exactly what we were hoping for. Within two months we could see a very active Facebook site with over 800 followers who had posted over 200 healthy recipes and effectively created a community of people discussing topics such alternatives to salt.

An entry for the Chef It Up TT competition

Please do have a look at our site at https://www.facebook.com/groups/chefituptt and then by all means try out some of these recipes !

In the next phase we will follow this up with a quiz on healthy eating to reduce hypertension which we are developing as a smartphone app.

ASSA Studies in Retirment

By alex.clegg, on 26 July 2022

Author: Daniel Miller

In June we held a very successful workshop with invited guest academics to discuss our contribution to comparative studies of ageing. Based on the very helpful comments we received we plan to submit a set of papers to the journal Anthropology and Aging. The next set of ASSA presentations will take place in Belfast on July 26th as part of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) conference.

Our main panel is called The Transformation of Hope in Retirement (P107a and P107b) taking place on Tuesday 26th July and will take a comparative perspective on the increasing significance of hope to older people when retired life may stretch to three decades. Retirement may create new possibilities for engagement and expanding experience, or represent a struggle based on diminishing resources and isolation.

The presentations include Shireen Walton talking about how older adults in a neighbourhood in Milan, Italy, variously envision and experience their lives in retirement; looking at digital forms of social participation, and how older age and retirement are seen as life stages to design together. Charlotte Hawkins is drawing upon her ethnography with older people working in a diverse neighbourhood in Kampala, Uganda, to question the assumption of old age as a time of rest and retirement. This presents an important counter perspective within this comparative panel on the possibilities of retirement. Pauline Garvey will present a paper that suggest that instead of seeing domestic transformation or downsizing as a road to decline, her participants who have transformed or replaced their home in their retirement do so as part of a hopeful investment in the future. My own paper takes a fairly extreme view of retirement as an historically unprecedented possibility of freedom, not just shorn of work and family responsibility but the freedoms that come with the capacities of affluence and smartphones. This is compared to the discussion of freedom by philosophers and comes from my forthcoming manuscript The Irish and the Philosophers.

The second half of the panel will be based on projects outside of ASSA coming from fieldwork in China, Brazil, England, New Zealand and a comparative paper across Europe by Katja Seidel, David Prendergast, Jamie Saris, Claudia Huang, Andrew Dawson and Matin Fossa.

The other presentation that derived from the ASSA project will be from Xinyuan Wang (p110a and p110b) on Wednesday 27th July convened by Xinyuan and Jolynna Sinanan. Wang’s paper drawing on her ethnography in Shanghai, unpacks the concept of ‘filial piety’ and argues that what matters most in kinship practice within China is not so much an issue of kin classification but a practical distinction between sentiment and obligation.