Event: Affected and Embodied Early Years Educators in the Baby Room – a C & S seminar with Meryl Williams and Deb Albon

Date & time: Wednesday 29th March, 12-1.30pm

Location: Middlesex University – College Building, Room C122

Seminar 10: Professional Identities of Early Years Workers

Meryl Williams, University of Sussex – Behind the Nursery Door: Emotional Labour in the Babyroom

I am the deputy manager of a private day nursery in southern England. In this ethnographic study of our babyroom I use my insider status to examine the fine texture of daily life and capture the voices of those who meet within – parents, key persons and infants.  What I see, hear and feel disrupts and unsettles many of my taken-for-granted practices. I am left with profound questions about the nature of paid-for love and the toll it takes on those buy, provide and receive it within the confines of babyroom. This experience reshapes my professional identity, from within.

Dr Deb Albon, Senior Lecturer at Roehampton University – The Embodiment of an Early Childhood Practitioner

Taking its initial inspiration from the work of feminist writers such as Elizabeth Grosz (1994) who argue for a conceptualization of the body as an entanglement of the corporeal, psychical and textual, this paper explores various, often competing, understandings of the body of the early childhood practitioner. Drawing on ethnographic data from a baby/toddler room I show how practitioners navigate understandings of their bodies as ‘maternal’, ‘non-sexual’, and ‘fit and healthy’ in the context of their daily work in early childhood education and care (ECEC). I will argue that the physical body, as lived through by practitioners, is an aspect of professional work in ECEC – a profession overwhelmingly made up of women – which has been under-explored thus far.