Living and dying on the periphery: Spaces of death within the geographies of intergenerational care

Authors: Kelsey Hanrahan*,
Topics: Africa, Cultural Geography
Keywords: death; care; Africa; Ghana; old age
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Galerie 1, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines how geographies of care can work to shape spaces of dying. As part of spaces of care, intergenerational relationships are produced across the life course, shaped by past practices and future responsibilities that include expectations around care and the provision of a ‘good death’. And yet, these spaces hold painful potentialities that can render certain individuals abject. In these moments, care and death take on new geographies. This paper draws on ethnographic data from a rural Ghanaian village, focusing on one woman’s experiences during her final year of life. Contrary to others, Nyaa Ngbalikbi’s end of life, located literally and figuratively on the periphery of her village, was notable for a consistent lack of material and emotional investment—not only towards her well-being, but her very being in the community. Her days were painful experiences shaped by physical and emotional sufferings of immobility, loneliness, paranoia, and hunger. While her end of life circumstances were exceptional within the community, they were directly shaped by normative expectations of intergenerational care. Her story helps us in understanding the intimate intersections between geographies of care and death.

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