In August 2016, Lynn Botelho was invited to give the keynote address for “Wise or Worn Out? Growing Old in the Seventeenth-Century Low Countries,” Conference of the Netherlandish Study Group the Seventeenth Century in Leuven (Belgium).
Botelho’s talk argued that there can be no Master Narrative of Old Age and the elderly can’t be neatly divided into Wise or Worn Out. The elderly are a product of all of their past experiences and not a single dimensional creature understand only by chronological age. For example, religion and wealth shape the sort of old age one experienced—thus the “intersectionality” of the title.
Botelho used the self-agency of the rich elderly to show that they proactively sought an old age that was free of pain. Finally, it placed of it this into the context of the 17th-century Low Countries and stressed the importance that part of the world played in the development of the modern west. The Low Countries were a bundle of intersectionalities. They were both protestant and catholic; agricultural and merchant economies; independent secular states and religious principalities. Therefore, they are an extremely important way to learn about the complex nature of old age in the early modern world.
Department of History