Karla Dümmler, M.A.


Research interests
Migration, ageing in transnational spaces, care, research in intentional communities, economic anthropology

Research areas
Caribbean (especially Dominican Republic), Germany

Ageing in paradise? Care practices of and for migrant retirees in the Dominican Republic

New migratory trends have not only become visible along the much-discussed South-North-migration-routes,

More and more European and North American retirees are moving to countries of the Global South. Reasons could be lower living costs, a more pleasant climate, but also access to individual, affordable care. At the same time, the retirees themselves take care of their new environment with various activities, for example by taking in street dogs, helping to beautify their neighbourhood or collecting donations for other pensioners in need. Two differently structured ‘elderscapes’ in the Dominican Republic are in the centre of interest of this dissertation project.

With this project I am pursuing three main goals. Firstly, I investigate the identifications, motives and needs of retired migrants in this Caribbean country. What are the life stories behind the migration decisions? Which relationship arrangements and changes influence and accompany the move to the Dominican Republic? How do retirees organise their social and material provision in the event of a need for care?

Secondly, I look at the transformation of local and migrant concepts of ageing and different care practices. I ask which ideal images of old age are communicated and which variants are lived. Local, Dominican and, if relevant, class-dependent characteristics should also be considered. Which changes do the migrants introduce into Dominican life worlds and how are these changes reflected on by the Dominican population?

Third, I aim at a further theorization of transnational ageing. On the one hand, it is about getting over the ascription of a double marginalization, which is often found in the literature on ageing and migration. On the other hand, transnational ageing is to be considered in the context of a new North-South poverty migration, since many ageing people experience a precarization of their living conditions precisely at the transition to retirement age. Can retirement migration be understood as a strategy of de-precarization of pensioners? Under what circumstances do precarious life situations arise in the course of migration? What theoretical insights can be gained from the interplay of retirement migration, precarization, care and the context of the Dominican Republic?