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February 12, 2020 | 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Category: Lecture
Location: Faculty/Administration #2339 | Map
656 W. Kirby
Detroit, MI 48202
Cost: Free
Audience: Academic Staff, Alumni, Community, Current Undergraduate Students, Faculty, Parents, Prospective Students, Staff

The Humanities Center is proud to present as part of its Brown Bag Series, a talk by Dr. Jessica Robbins, Anthropology/Gerontology, Assistant Professor



Gardening, Memory, and Wellbeing in Later Life: Comparative Insights from Ethnographic Research in Poland and Detroit

In this talk, I explore new directions for understanding memory and wellbeing among older adults living in postindustrial urban contexts. Two distinct ethnographic studies—one on memory and personhood among older allotment gardeners in Poland, and the other on gardening and wellbeing among older African Americans in Detroit—show that the collective past shapes possibilities for wellbeing in the present. In Poland, practices of gardening involve collective memories that intertwine home and nation, thus sustaining personhood (Robbins-Ruszkowski 2017). In Detroit, gardening fosters connections with the past, as gardeners are reminded of deceased loved ones through practices and the plants themselves. These intimate connections and everyday activities are situated in racialized histories of migration, disinvestment, and “revitalization,” even as they provide the means to cultivate life in the present (Robbins and Seibel 2019). This talk works to develop comparative insights on aging, memory, and wellbeing that include person-plant relations, embodied memory, and the moral imagination.


These talks are free and open to the public! We also provide free coffee, tea and cake!

For more information about this event, please contact Humanities Center at 313-577-5471 or