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A place to transform: creating caring spaces by challenging normativity and identity

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Like all spaces, concrete caring places both shape and are shaped by understandings and constructions of normativity and identity. The traditional understanding of care for older people, imagining clearly demarcated dyadic roles, is firmly embedded in heterosexual logics of relationships within families, the own (family) home and institutional support. Social and residential places for older people thus both assume particular gender and sexual identities and contribute to a (re)production of the very normativity. But how can this interlinkage between the construction of caring spaces and the normativity of identities be understood and, possibly, challenged? In this article we discuss the transformative potential of the social (and partly residential) space of La FundaciĆ³n 26 de Diciembre, in Madrid, Spain, which opened up to specifically support older LGBT people. Drawing on an in-depth case study we explore a space that allows visibility of different forms of living and caring practices of people with different genders, sexual preferences, origins, classes or political backgrounds. Through the daily life narratives of the people who work, volunteer or simply use the centre we discuss the potential of challenging the restricted notions, assumptions and constructions through which particular places gain both social and political meaning. The article highlights the transformative power of the active and collective making of caring spaces through which narratives of care, collective sexual and gender recognition and practices of caring relationships can replace both traditional/informal forms of living together and institutional spaces that provide professional care.
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Keywords: Ageing in place; LGBT; care; challenging normativity; geographies of care; queer aging

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: NASP (Universita degli Studi di Torino and Milano), Torino, Italy 2: Department of Sociology, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria

Publication date: March 4, 2018

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