This issue of Radical History Review examines the histories and politics of old age, highlighting approaches that denaturalize chronological age and normative models of the life course by centering power, historical struggle, and linked lives.
Conversations Stephen Katz, Kavita Sivaramakrishnan, and Pat Thane discuss the past and potential of critical aging studies and consider its lessons for the age of COVID-19.
Slavery, Emancipation, and the Politics of Elder Care Corinne T. Field considers Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and their black feminist calls for old age justice. Henrique Espada Lima illuminates enslaved peoples’ and slaveowners’ negotiations over freedom, property, and elder care in southeastern Brazil in the nineteenth century.
Genealogies of Retirement Amelia Kennedy traces debates about abbatial retirement in medieval Cistercian monasteries. Ben Zdencanovic reveals how Soviet social welfarism informed the origins of US Social Security. Gabriel Winant argues that the politics of old age “dependency” bolstered the patriarchal conservatism of the US welfare state.
Generational Struggles and Solidarities Laura Renata Martin maps the opposing sides taken by elderly tenants and labor unions over urban renewal in 1970s San Francisco. Maya C. Sandler recounts the principles and politics of the East Bay Gray Panthers’ Over 60 Health Clinic. Lauren Jae Gutterman revisits the context of the founding of SAGE, the U.S.’s oldest social service organization for LGBT elders. Rachel Gelfand reflects on queer intergenerational families, bequest, and collaboration in the relaying of history.
Curated Spaces Jess T. Dugan and Vanessa Fabbre share a series of portraits and life stories of the joys and struggles of transgender and gender non-conforming older adults.