Event: Childhood in the (Post-)Anthropocene – a C & S seminar with David Blundell and Jayne Osgood

Date & time: 29th November, 12-1.30pm

Location: Middlesex University – College Building, CG09

Seminar 3: Childhood in the (Post-)Anthropocene

David Blundell (London Metropolitan University) Children and childhood in the Anthropocene: taking ‘a wider look around’.

Prof Jayne Osgood (Middlesex University) Re-configuring early childhood education as worldly-entanglement

“Justice, which entails acknowledgment, recognition, and loving attention, is not a state that can be achieved once and for all. There are no solutions; there is only the on-going practice of being open and alive to each meeting, each intra-action, so that we might use our ability to respond, our responsibility, to help awaken, to breathe life into ever new possibilities for living justly. The world and its possibilities for becoming are remade in each meeting.” (Barad, 2007:x)

In this paper I examine how we might move beyond critique alone to attend to the possibilities that open up when we turn our attention to ordinary routines and mundane situations to reconfigure entrenched ideas about childhood and early years education. To do this I consider the ways in which discourses, curriculum frameworks, inspection regimes, research and pedagogical practices and routine happenings are entangled within everyday events in an early childhood centre. I focus upon the material-semiotic-discursive and affective entanglements observed during ethnographic research which takes materiality as its starting place. Attention to shaving foam snowmen, boggly eyes, human hair, mirrored walls and too-small furniture provides the means to account for associations and traceable attachments in which education can be understood as more than an exclusively human endeavour. I draw upon a small number of other-worldly examples (a narrative strategic plan, cyborginal activism and a choreographed dance performance) to illustrate means by which we can, playfully but seriously, break free from old orthodoxies in early childhood to open up more generative possibilities. This new materialist approach is informed by feminist scholars including Jane Bennet, Karen Barad, Donna Haraway and Rosi Braidotti and it calls for us to view the world, and our human place in that world, afresh.