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Making matter matter as a constitutive force in children's subjectivities
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
(English)In: Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, ISSN 1463-9491, E-ISSN 1463-9491Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

The starting point of this article is that we are constantly engaged in significant relations, not only to other humans, but also to nonhuman matter. I argue that contemporary educational research often do not sufficiently acknowledge how material components matters in the ongoing production of gendered subjectivities. Even though theoretical perspectives such as social constructionism and post structuralism offer a view on the subject as contextual and situational, it is rare that this interest take into considerations the material components and conditions. Most often it is the inter-subjective or interpersonal relations, and the discourses that lay down the conditions or make possible these relations, that are being understood as the context from which the child emerges. Nonhuman matter is most often not mentioned at all. In this article I will explore the relations between children and nonhuman materiality. My empirical material consists of memories from preschools, narrated and put into writing by a group of adult researchers using the methodology of collective biography. By analyzing these stories/memories, with the help of a number of concepts and ideas that can be understood as related to a posthumanist theoretical perspective, I want to show how things that we traditionally consider as passive or dead, as dots on the floor, dolls and furniture, can be regarded as forces that plays an important role as constitutive actors in children’s gendered subjectivities.  

National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-63410OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-63410DiVA: diva2:448757
Projects
Förskolan som jämställdhetspolitisk arena 1970-2008
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2011-10-18 Created: 2011-10-18 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Barn, linjaler och andra aktörer: Posthumanistiska perspektiv på subjektskapande och materialitet i förskola/skola
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Barn, linjaler och andra aktörer: Posthumanistiska perspektiv på subjektskapande och materialitet i förskola/skola
2011 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Children, rulers and other actors : Posthumanist perspectives on subjectivity and materiality in pre-school and school
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the interaction between nonhuman materiality and the construction of subjectivity in pedagogical practices. The starting point is that children are constantly engaged in significant relations, not only to other humans but also to nonhuman matter, and that nonhuman materiality such as pedagogical material, toys and furniture partake and play an important role in the construction of children’s subjectivities. However, most theories that are being used in educational research with a focus on subjectivity take on a notion that renders nonhuman materiality as passive, and as firmly subordinated humans or language. In order to take into account how nonhuman materiality can be understood as a constitutive force I turn to and investigate a posthumanist perspective that conceptualize agency and performative qualities as a property, not only of humans but also of nonhuman materiality (Barad 1997; Bennett 2004, 2005, 2007; Pickering 1995, 2005). Among the different theoretical frameworks and concepts available that shares these understandings I especially focus on concepts developed in actor- network theory (Callon 1986; Latour 1992; 1999a, 1999b, 2005; Law 2002, 2004). In four research articles I put these concepts to work in relation to pieces of empirical data from pedagogical practices in order to investigate how subjectivity is constituted by the interplay between humans and nonhumans. From these four articles I conclude that a posthumanist perspective in which the  world is conceptualized as constitutive and performative can intensify and broaden the insights made from post structural and social constructionist perspectives, which have focused on language as a constitutive force. I further discuss how a posthumanist perspective gives way to an understanding of children’s relations to nonhumans in terms of communication, mutual transformations and translations that changes both humans and nonhumans.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Education, Stockholm University, 2011. 89 p.
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar från Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik, 10
Keyword
subjectivity, nonhuman materiality, posthumanism, actor-network theory, posthuman performativity, pedagogical practices
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-63413 (URN)978-91-7447-392-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-11-18, Magnélisalen, Kemiska övningslaboratoriet, Svante Arrhenius väg 16 B, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Förskolan som jämställdhetspolitisk arena 1970-2008
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Accepted. Paper 4: Submitted.

Available from: 2011-10-27 Created: 2011-10-18 Last updated: 2015-10-20Bibliographically approved

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