Anna I. Corwin is an Assistant Professor in the anthropology department at Saint Mary’s College of California specializing in the fields of linguistic and medical anthropology. Anna’s research examines the intersections between aging, embodiment, well being, social interaction, and language. After completing her PhD in anthropology in 2014 at the University of California, Los Angeles, Anna spent two years at Stanford University as a Thinking Matters Fellow.
Anna’s current research project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities is titled Holding the Hand of God: How Catholic Nuns Became Models of Successful Aging. The research seeks to understand why some individuals age more “successfully” than others, setting them apart from the majority of their contemporaries. Epidemiologists have identified American Catholic nuns as a group that lives longer, healthier, and more actively, experiencing less anxiety, pain, and depression than their lay counterparts. While contributing factors such as education, nutrition, physical activity, optimistic outlook, and spiritual and social support have been identified through surveys and medical examinations, Anna’s research is the first to document the everyday communicative practices (such as prayer and social support) that contribute to the quality of life these elderly nuns report.
Anna’s research identifies how everyday linguistic practices contribute to well-being. By providing close analysis of the daily activities that contribute to documented patterns of successful aging, Anna’s work contributes new insights to a growing literature on successful aging in the fields of anthropology, gerontology, public health, and end-of-life care.