An Arts and Culture Perspective on Dementia

Ruud Hendriks, Ike Kamphof, and Aagje Swinnen represent the research strand “An Arts and Culture Perspective on Dementia” (hosted by the Arts, Media, and Culture research program) that examines cultural representations of dementia, as well as innovative practices in dementia care that support the personhood and wellbeing of people living with dementia. These practices include technological approaches and participatory arts in which people with dementia are offered a creative role as an escape from their role of patient.

Together, Hendriks, Kamphof, and Swinnen are now developing an elective on “Vulnerable Bodies” for the revised bachelor’s program in Arts and Culture. Being successful in today’s Western society comes with a very specific bodily regime of exercise, dieting, beauty, etc. that has evolved into a moral obligation of autonomy, self-management, and control. The elective “Vulnerable Bodies” combines insights from disability and aging studies to examine how persons who depart from this norm of success because of illnesses or disabilities (e.g., dementia, autism, Down, and cancer) are met, how they resist abjection and exclusion, and find meaning in life.

This research strand ties in with the research conducted in the Arts, Media and Culture research programme.