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Dr Maria G Cattell

The Field Museum of Natural History, USA


486 Walnut Hill Rd.
Millersville PA 17551



Dr. Cattell has been researching aging in Kenya since 1982. Her other research includes intergenerational knowledge exchange among Zulus, a community study of older persons in Philadelphia, and the culture of gardening in the US.  She is a founding member of the African Gerontological Society and served as president of the Association for Anthropology and Gerontology, president of the Association for Africanist Anthropology (AFAA), co-chair of the Commission on Aging and the Aged of the IUAES, and co-convenor of the Women's Caucus of the African Studies Association. 

Her publications include Old Age in Global Perspective (1994), Social Memory and History (2002),Women in Anthropology (2006), and many articles and book chapters on her Kenya research, among them “Aging and Social Change among Abaluyia in Western Kenya: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives” (Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 2008). In 2012 she gave the AFAA Distinguished Lecture on “Gender, Generation and Time in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Key research/capacity building interests

Research Interests

  • Rural aging
  • Aging and the life course


  • Mentoring graduate students

Key methodological skills

  • Qualitative anthropological research/participant observation including in-depth interviewing, focus group interviewing, life histories, family histories
  • Long-term research

Current/planned research

  • Aging, family life, and socioeconomic change in western Kenya: Ongoing research since 1982, following individuals and families over time