Elusive Adulthoods

Elusive Adulthoods

The Anthropology of New Maturities
Edited by Deborah Durham and Jacqueline Solway
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 09/19/2017
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-02973-7
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Over the past decade, complaints about an inability to achieve adulthood have rung out around the world. Young people across the globe, burdened with debt and unsatisfactory job prospects, are struggling to establish households, marry, and, perhaps most significantly, own up. For them, achievement of adulthood has become increasingly elusive.

Elusive Adulthoods poses the question What is adulthood?s how the field of anthropology has come to overlook this meaningful life transition. Through diverse case studies, contributors explore a variety of means by which adulthood can be recognized, such as negotiated relationships with others, including grown children, and as a form of upward class mobility. Contributors also grapple with the difficulties that come from a sense of having missed full adulthood rapid social change or reluctance to embrace the necessary subordination to job and family. In each case, changing political and economic factors form the background for generational experiences and understandings of what it means to reach adulthood as globalization dictates changes to traditional rites of passage.

Author Bio

Deborah Durham is Professor of Anthropology at Sweet Briar College. She is editor (with Jennifer Cole) of Generations and Globalization: Youth, Age, and Family in the New World Economy and Figuring the Future: Globalization and the Temporalities of Children and Youth.

Jacqueline Solway is Professor Emeritus of the International Development Studies and Anthropology Departments of Trent University of Canada. She is editor of The Politics of Egalitarianism: Anthropological Theory and Practice.


“An important collection that furthers anthropological work on life stages.”
 — Susan Reynolds Whyte, author of Generations in Africa: Connections and Conflicts

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Table of Contents

1. Elusive Adulthoods: Introduction / Deborah Durham
2. The Predicament of Adulthood in Botswana / Jacqueline Solway
3. Educated Youth and the Search for in Adulthood Post-war Sri Lanka / Dhana Hughes
4. Learning to Wait: Schooling and the Instability of Adulthood for Young Men in Uganda / Claire Elisabeth Dungey and Lotte Meinert
5. Adulthood and Youth in a Rapidly Urbanizing Chinese County / Andrew B. Kipnis
6. Inventing the Rules: Redefining Moral Agency amongst the First Post-Independence Generation in Papua New Guinea / Karen Sykes
7. "Just Sitting" But Not Sitting Still: Delayed Adulthood and Changing Gender Dynamics in Northern Sudan / Janice Boddy
8. Between ‘Too Young’ and ‘Already Old’: The Fleeting Adulthood of Perestroika Teens / Anna Kruglova