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Abstracts, Journal issues, NORMA 6.1

Cut out to handle a ladder? Age, experience and acts of commemoration

Jennie Olofsson

This article is based on an ethnographic account of an association of retired fire fighters in the northern parts of Sweden. The intention is to outline how acts of storytelling and commemoration are paramount to aging in that they give a rite of passage to a particular process of aging. By this I suggest that my informants engaged in acts of commemoration in order to conflate age with experience. Investigating the interconnection between the aged fire fighters, their joint practices of storytelling and their preferences for certain tools rather than others this article proposes a revivified understanding of how the profession as a fire fighter is open to continuous modifications. The relation between different generations of fire fighters, as expressed in many of the joint narrations, showed that their exercises were masculinized and de-masculinized in tandem with the employment of professional tools. Scrutiny of the technological changes subsequently discloses a generational shift, which in turn encourages certain exercises whilst dismissing others. As the undertakings of a fire fighter rely on the instrumental utility the technological shifts contribute to fortifying differences between the age groups of the fire fighters.

collective remembering, fire fighters, aging, masculinity

NORMA: Nordic Journal for Masculinity Studies 6(1), 5-21,


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