Childhood and Society Seminar: Beyond male recruitment: decolonising gender diversification efforts in the early years by attending to pastpresent material-discursive-affective entanglements with Sid Mohandas (12-12.45pm London Time, Mon 8th Nov 2021, free, online) 

Abstract In the past few decades important work has been undertaken to unsettle essentialist conceptualisations of gender/sex in the early years workforce (Xu et al. 2020). Through an auto/ethnographic diffractive engagement that thinks with feminist ‘new’ materialist and postcolonial scholarships, this paper uncovers the need to move beyond an exclusive focus on diversifying the workforce by simply increasing the number of men. Moving beyond the narrow focus enables a richer and more expansive understanding of gender/sex that exposes colonialism and reveals everyday practices of early childhood educators to be shaped by place, space and matter. By attending to how matter matters in early years, child-sized chairs are used as a point of entry into this research inquiry to explore how gender/sex is produced through pastpresent, material-discursive-affective and more-than-human entanglements. The paper proposes that complicating understandings of gender/sex is important to decolonise early childhood spaces, and so hold space for the emergence of difference that is unmodulated by whiteness. Recognising the agentic potential of matter further opens up possibilities for that which is not-yet, but available to us, to make life more think-able in cis white heteropatriarchy.

Bio: Sid Mohandas is a former Montessori educator and teacher trainer. He is also the founder of The Male Montessorian. Sid is currently doing his doctorate at Middlesex University investigating how gender materialises in Montessori spaces using feminist ’new’ materialist and decolonial theories.