Abstract: In contemporary Ghana, adult children are considered responsible for the care of aged parents. Within this idealized framework, two aspects of elder care are overlooked. First, this narrative obscures the role of non-kin and extended kin in providing elder care in southern Ghana in both the past and the present. Second, it hides the negotiations over obligations and commitments between those who manage elder care and those who help with an aging person’s daily activities. It is this latter role in which non-kin and extended kin are significant in elder care, while closer kin maintain their kin roles through the more distant management, financial support, and recruitment of others. This talk, centered on Akuapem, in southern Ghana, examines three historical periods—the 1860s, the 1990s, and the 2000s—to show that helping an aged person relies on previous and expected entrustments, in which more vulnerable, dependent, and indebted persons are most likely to be recruited to provide care.
Cati Coe is the author of The New American Servitude: Political Belonging among African Immigrant Home Care Workers.
Co-sponsored by UCIS-African Studies Program and the Department of Africana Studies
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