Unsettling encounters with 'natural' places in early childhood education




Nxumalo, Fikile

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Drawing on everyday encounters from a three year collaborative research project with young children and early childhood educators in British Columbia, Canada, the manuscripts contained in this dissertation craft and put to work practices of witnessing and a methodology of refiguring presences as modes of creating interruptions in settler colonial place relations. This work critically engages with the question of what attention to Indigenous presences, to ongoing colonialisms, and to human/more-than-human entanglements, in everyday pedagogical encounters might do towards enacting anti-colonial early childhood pedagogies. My particular interest is in the anti-colonial possibilities of (re)storying the ‘natural’ places that I inhabit with children and educators. In the first manuscript, enacting figurations of witnessing, I map the complexities of my role as a pedagogista, early childhood educator, and researcher; situating myself as an embodied and implicated presence within the research and pedagogical practices from which this dissertation is assembled. In the second manuscript, I articulate refiguring presences as an anti-colonial methodological orientation for attending to the intricacies of everyday place encounters in early childhood settings. In the third manuscript, I experiment with refiguring presences through a series of interruptive stories that attend to Indigenous relationalities, human-non-human entanglements and the settler colonial tensions that come together in the making of a mountain forest that I regularly visit with children and educators. In the fourth manuscript, I experiment with refiguring presences to pay attention to everyday encounters with a community garden. I experiment with orientations that bring attention to messy historical relations and that attend to the vitalities of specific plant and animal worlds. I discuss the interruptive effects of this noticing in generating politicized dialogues with this place, where more-than-human socialities (Tsing, 2013) disrupt and subvert colonial impositions of control, belonging and order.



early childhood studies, more-than-human, anticolonial methodology, place stories, settler colonialism