A Critical Analysis of Western Disease Constructs

By: Rayne Stroebel  

This presentation explores the impact of colonialization on the peoples of South Africa, and how it shaped knowledge formation, in order to understand ageing and memory loss in an indigenous population. The experience of ageing of people living in informal settlements is likely to be affected by a number of factors, some of which older people may have little or no control over - poverty, disease, [hunger] food insecurity, a low education level, marginalisation - social exclusion, and lifelong hardship are likely to impact on the way they experience ageing. These influences may be a direct result of their displacement and dispossession given South Africa’s unique history. It is proposed that while ageing is universal, the way in which it is experienced will differ depending on the lived experience of individuals across the globe. Living is a complex, multi-facetted interaction between people and their environment. An assumption that disease is experienced similarly across the globe needs interrogation. The ‘export’ of disease models to remote parts of the world for the purpose of categorising people and validating Western research and data projections is a subject of contemporary academic discourse that must be considered in new light. Dementia as a Western, biomedical disease construct cannot and should not be exported to the rest of the world unless there is a much deeper understanding of its manifestation in different cultures.

Dementia, Biomedical construct, Decolonization
Social and Cultural Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Rayne Stroebel

Managing Director, GERATEC, South Africa
South Africa

I am currently a PhD student through the University of Stirling, Scotland. I run a private serviec provider company in Cape Town, South Africa. My passion is to understand the lived experience of older people in poor communities, within the context of post-Apartheid South Africa.