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Welcome to Middle Age!

(And Other Cultural Fictions)

Many of us believe we recognize the symptoms of middle age: lower back pain, mortgages, and an aversion to loud late-night activities. This particular construction of midlife, most often rendered in chronological, biological, and medical terms, has become an accepted reality to European-Americans and has recently spread to such non-Western capitals as Tokyo and New Delhi. Welcome to Middle Age! (And Other Cultural Fictions) explores the significance of this pervasive cultural representation alongside the alternative "fictions" that represent the life course in other regions of the world where middle age does not exist.

In this volume, anthropologists, behavioral scientists, and historians explore topics ranging from the Western ideology of "midlife decline" to cultural representations of mature adulthood that operate without the category of middle age. The result is a fascinating, panoramic collection that explores the myths surrounding and the representations of mature adulthood and of those years in the life span from thirty to seventy.

Table of Contents

Preface by Richard A. Shweder
Introduction: Welcome to Middle Age! by Richard A. Shweder
1: Midlife Discourses in the Twentieth-Century United States: An Essay on the Sexuality, Ideology, and Politics of "Middle-Ageism"
Margaret Morganroth Gullette
2: Deconstructing the Change: Female Maturation in Japan and North America
Margaret Lock
3: The Search for Middle Age in India
Sudhir Kakar
4: Status Reversal: The Coming of Aging in Samoa
Bradd Shore
5: The Return of the "White Man’s Burden": The Moral Discourse of Anthropology and the Domestic Life of Hindu Women
Usha Menon, Richard A. Shweder.
6: Fertility and Maturity in Africa: Gusii Parents in Middle Adulthood
Robert A. LeVine, Sarah LeVine.
7: Children of the 1960s at Midlife: Generational Identity and the Family Adaptive Project
Thomas S. Weisner, Lucinda P. Bernheimer.
8: Place and Race: Midlife Experience in Harlem
Katherine Newman

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