Situating Indigenous and Black Childhoods in the Anthropocene

Living reference work entry

Latest version View entry history

Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


This chapter engages with selected Indigenous and Black feminist onto-epistemological concepts in relation to their potential for interrupting the ongoing absenting or essentializing of Indigenous and Black childhoods in dominant North American nature education discourses. In particular, I consider Indigenous feminist practices of presencing and relating alongside Black feminist traditions of testifying-witnessing as ways of knowing and doing that provide openings for inclusive, critical, non-anthropocentric, and speculative child-nature pedagogies, particularly for Black and Indigenous children living and learning in North American contexts. To illustrate their generative and interruptive potentials, I put these concepts into dialogue with ethnographic fragments of young children’s everyday multispecies encounters, children’s literature, Black speculative fiction, as well as situated Black and Indigenous place stories. I discuss how early childhood educators in the context of settler colonial North America might engage these ideas in their everyday practices with young children, including the ethical potentials of doing so within the ongoing and interconnected conditions of anthropogenic environmental change, settler colonialism, and anti-blackness.


Settler colonialism Anthropocene Nature education Black feminisms Indigenous feminisms Black childhoods Indigenous childhoods 


  1. Agard-Jones, V. (2014). Spray. Retrieved from
  2. Andrijasevic, R., & Khalili, L. (2013). Water. Feminist Review, 103, 1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Benjamin, R. (2016). Racial fictions, biological facts: Expanding the sociological imagination through speculative methods. Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, 2(2), 1–28.Google Scholar
  4. Broomfield, J. (2017). Interview [video file]. Retrieved from
  5. Butler, O. (1988). Dawn. New York: Warner Books.Google Scholar
  6. Butler, O. (1995). Parable of the sower. New York: Time Warner Books.Google Scholar
  7. Butler, O. E. (1998). Parable of the talents. New York: Grand Central Publishing.Google Scholar
  8. Cairns, K. (2017). Connecting to food: Cultivating children in the school garden. Children’s Geographies, 15(3), 304–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cajete, G. (2017). Children, myth and storytelling: An Indigenous perspective. Global Studies of Childhood, 7(2), 113–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cameron, E. (2012). New geographies of story and storytelling. Progress in Human Geography, 36(5), 572–591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen, C., MacLeod, J., & Neimanis, A. (2013). Thinking with water. Montreal, QC: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Collard, R.-C., Dempsey, J., & Sundberg, J. (2015). A manifesto for abundant futures. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 105(2), 322–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Collins, P. H. (1998). Fighting words: Black women and the search for justice. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
  14. Collins, P. H. (2000). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Collins, P. H. (2016). Black feminist thought as oppositional knowledge. Departures in Critical Qualitative Research, 5(3), 133–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Common World Childhoods Research Collective. (2017). Children’s multispecies relations. Retrieved from
  17. Davis, J. (Ed.). (2015). Young children and the environment: Early education for sustainability (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. de Finney, S. (2014). Under the shadow of empire: Indigenous girls’ presencing as decolonizing force. Girlhood Studies, 7(1), 8–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Depenbrock, J. (January 18, 2017). At ‘nature preschools,’ classes are outdoors. Education Week. Retrieved from
  20. Dove, J., Everett, L., & Preece, P. (1999). Exploring a hydrological concept through children’s drawings. International Journal of Science Education, 21(5), 485–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Frazier, C. M. (2016). Troubling ecology: Wangechi Mutu, Octavia Butler, and Black feminist interventions in environmentalism. Critical Ethnic Studies, 2(1), 40–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gallagher, K. C. (2005). Brain research and early childhood development: A primer for developmentally appropriate practice. Young Children, 60(4), 12–18.Google Scholar
  23. Gibson, K., Rose, D. B., & Fincher, R. (Eds.). (2015). Manifesto for living in the Anthropocene. Brooklyn, NY: Punctum.Google Scholar
  24. Ginn, F., Biesel, U., & Barua, M. (2014). Flourishing with awkward creatures: Togetherness, vulnerability, killing. Environmental Humanities, 4, 113–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gross, C. (2012). Science concepts young children learn through water play. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 40(2), 3–11.Google Scholar
  26. Haraway, D. (2015). Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making kin. Environmental Humanities, 6, 159–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Haraway, D. (2016). Staying with the trouble: Making kin in the Chthulucene. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Havu-Nuutinen, S. (2005). Examining young children’s conceptual change process in floating and sinking from a social constructivist perspective. International Journal of Science Education, 25, 259–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Imarisha, W., & Brown, A. M. (Eds.). (2015). Octavia’s brood: Science fiction stories from social justice movements. Chico, CA: AK Press.Google Scholar
  30. IPCC. (2014). In Core Writing Team, R. K. Pachauri, & L. A. Meyer (Eds.), Climate change 2014: Synthesis report. Contribution of working groups I, II and III to the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Geneva, Switzerland: IPCC.Google Scholar
  31. Jackson, Z. I. (2013). Animal: New directions in the theorization of race and posthumanism. Feminist Studies, 39(3), 669–685.Google Scholar
  32. Jackson, Z. I. (2015). Outer worlds: The persistence of race in movement “beyond the human”. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 21(2–3), 215–218.Google Scholar
  33. Jackson, Z. I. (2016). Sense of things. Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, 2(2), 1–48.Google Scholar
  34. Jones, S. A., & Stenberg, A. (2015). Niobe: She is life. Los Angeles: Stranger Comics.Google Scholar
  35. Kimmerer, R. W. (2002). Weaving traditional ecological knowledge into biological education: A call to action. Bioscience, 52(5), 432–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. King, T. L. (2016). The labor of (re)reading plantation landscapes fungible(ly). Antipode, 48, 1022–1039.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. King, T. L. (2017). Humans involved: Lurking in the lines of posthumanist flight. Critical Ethnic Studies, 3(1), 162–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kopnina, H., & Shoreman-Ouimet, E. (Eds.). (2011). Environmental anthropology today. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Latty, S., Scribe, M. , Peters, A, & Morgan, A. (2016). Not enough human: At the scenes of Indigenous and Black dispossession. Critical Ethnic Studies, 2(2), 129–158. Scholar
  40. Lewis, S. L., & Maslin, M. A. (2015). A transparent framework for defining the Anthropocene epoch. The Anthropocene Review, 2(2), 128–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Louv, R. (2008). Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder (2nd ed.). Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin.Google Scholar
  42. Malone, K. (2017). Ecological posthumanist theorising: Grappling with child-dog-bodies. In K. Malone, S. Truong, & T. Gray (Eds.), Reimagining sustainability in precarious times (pp. 161–172). Singapore: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Martin, K. (2008). Aboriginal worldview, knowledge and relatedness theory: A framework for pedagogy and praxis and the teaching-learning interface with Aboriginal students. Presented at the AIATSIS seminar, Canberra, Australia. Retrieved from
  44. McKittrick, K. 2002, Their blood is there, and they can’t throw it out: Honouring Black Canadian geographies, Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, 7, 27–37Google Scholar
  45. McKittrick, K. (2006). Demonic grounds: Black women and the cartographies of struggle. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  46. McKittrick, K. (2011). On plantations, prisons, and a black sense of place. Social & Cultural Geography, 12(8), 947–963.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Messner, K. (2017). Over and under the pond. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.Google Scholar
  48. Mitchell, A. (2017). A politics of worlds – ‘Planet politics’ forum. Retrieved from
  49. Mitchell, A., & Todd, Z. (2016). Earth violence: Indigeneity and the Anthropocene. Retrieved from
  50. Müller, U., & Liben, L. S. (2017). Introduction: Natural Spaces and Development. Children, Youth and Environments, 27(2), 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Neimanis, A., Åsberg, C., & Hedrén, J. (2015). Four problems, four directions for environmental humanities: Toward critical posthumanities for the Anthropocene. Ethics & the Environment, 20(1), 67–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nxumalo, F. (2015). Forest stories: Restorying encounters with ‘natural’ places in early childhood education. In V. Pacini-Ketchabaw & A. Taylor (Eds.), Unsettling the colonial places and spaces of early childhood education (pp. 21–42). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  53. Nxumalo, F. (2016). Storying practices of witnessing: Refiguring quality in everyday pedagogical encounters. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 1–15. Published ahead of print 5 February 2016.
  54. Nxumalo, F. (2017a). Geotheorizing mountain-child relations within anthropogenic inheritances. Children’s Geographies, 15(5), 558–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Nxumalo, F. (2017b). Stories for living on a damaged planet: Environmental education in a preschool classroom. Journal of Early Childhood Research. Advance Online Publication.
  56. Nxumalo, F., & Cedillo, S. (2017). Decolonizing ‘place’ in early childhood studies: Thinking with Indigenous onto-epistemologies and Black feminist geographies. Global Studies of Childhood, 7(2), 99–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Nxumalo, F., Oh, S., Hughes, J., & Bhanji, S. (2015). Entangled dialogues on learning how to inherit in colonized and damaged lifeworlds. Canadian Children, 40(2), 82–88.Google Scholar
  58. Nxumalo, F., & Pacini-Ketchabaw, V. (2017). “Staying with the trouble” in child-insect-educator common worlds. Environmental Education Research, 23(10), 1414–1426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Nxumalo, F., & Rubin, J. C. (2018). Encountering waste landscapes: More-than-human place literacies in early childhood education. In C. R. Kuby, K. Spector, & J. Johnson Thiel (Eds.), Posthumanism and literacy education: Knowing/being/doing literacies. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  60. Pacini-Ketchabaw, V., & Clark, V. (2016). Following watery relations in early childhood pedagogies. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 14, 98–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Pacini-Ketchabaw, V., & Nxumalo, F. (2015). Unruly raccoons and troubled educators: Nature/culture divides in a childcare centre. Environmental Humanities, 7, 151–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Pacini-Ketchabaw, V., Taylor, A., & Blaise, M. (2016). Decentring the human in multispecies ethnographies. In C. Taylor & C. Hughes (Eds.), Posthuman research practices in education (pp. 149–167). London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  63. Parham, M. (2015). Still life in digital: Black life, trauma, and social media. Mellon Mays Lecture presented at the University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, 30 Sept 2015.Google Scholar
  64. Plumwood, V. (1993). Feminism and the mastery of nature. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  65. Pulido, L. (2016). Flint, environmental racism, and racial capitalism. Capitalism, Nature Socialism, 27(3), 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Recollet, K. (2015). Glyphing decolonial love through urban flash mobbing and Walking with our Sisters. Curriculum Inquiry, 45(1), 129–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Recollet, K. (2016). Gesturing Indigenous futurities through the remix. Dance Research Journal, 48(1), 91–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Rose, D. B., van Dooren, T., Chrulew, M., Cooke, S., Kearnes, M., & O’Gorman, E. (2012). Thinking through the environment, unsettling the humanities. Environmental Humanities, 1, 1–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Ross, R. E. (2003). Witnessing and testifying: Black women, religion, and civil rights. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.Google Scholar
  70. Rowan, M. C. (2017). Rethinking relationships with curriculum by engaging with foxes and sharing stories in early childhood spaces. Global Studies of Childhood, 7(2), 131–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Rusert, B. M. (2010). Black nature: The question of race in the age of ecology. Polygraph, 22, 149–166.Google Scholar
  72. Sharpe, C. (2016). In the wake: On blackness and being. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Simpson, L. (2011). Dancing on our turtle’s back: Stories of Nishnaabeg re-creation, resurgence, and a new emergence. Winnipeg, MB: Arbeiter Ring Publishers.Google Scholar
  74. Spivak, G. C. (1985). The Rani of Sirmur: An essay in reading the archives. History and Theory, 24(3), 247–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Steffen, W., Crutzen, P. J., & McNeill, J. R. (2007). The Anthropocene: Are humans now overwhelming the great forces of nature? Ambio, 36, 614–621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. TallBear, K. (2013). Beyond life/not life: A feminist-Indigenous reading of cryopreservation, Interspecies thinking, and the new materialisms. Lecture presented at University of California, Los Angeles, Center for the Study of Women. Retrieved from
  77. TallBear, K. (2016). Failed settler kinship, truth and reconciliation, and science. Presentation retrieved from
  78. Tarpley, N. (Ed.). (1995). Testimony: Young African-Americans on self-discovery and black identity. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  79. Taylor, A. (2013). Reconfiguring the natures of childhood. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  80. Taylor, A. (2017). Beyond stewardship: Common world pedagogies for the Anthropocene. Environmental Education Research, 1–14. Advance Online Publication.
  81. Taylor, A., & Pacini-Ketchabaw, V. (2016). Kids, raccoons, and roos: Awkward encounters and mixed affects. Children’s Geographies, 15(2), 131–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Todd, Z. (2016a). Relationships. Cultural Anthropology website. Retrieved from
  83. Todd, Z. (2016b). An Indigenous feminist’s take on the ontological turn: ‘Ontology’ is just another word for colonialism. Journal of Historical Sociology, 29(1), 4–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Todd, Z. (2017). Commentary: The environmental anthropology of settler colonialism, Part I. Environment and anthropology society engagement blog. Retrieved from
  85. Tuck, E. (2009). Suspending damage: A letter to communities. Harvard Educational Review, 79(5), 409–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Tuck, E. (2014). A turn to where we already were? Settler inquiry, Indigenous philosophy, and the ontological turn. Presented at annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Philadelphia, PA, 3–7 Apr 2014.Google Scholar
  87. Tuck, E., & McKenzie, M. (2015). Relational validity and the ‘where’ of inquiry: Place and land in qualitative research. Qualitative Inquiry, 21(7), 633–638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Tuck, E., McKenzie, M., & McCoy, K. (2014). Land education: Indigenous, post-colonial, and decolonizing perspectives on place and environmental education research. Environmental Education Research, 20(1), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Tuck, E., & Ree, C. (2013). A glossary of haunting. In S. H. Jones, T. E. Adams, & C. Ellis (Eds.), Handbook of autoethnography (pp. 639–658). Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
  90. Tuck, E., Smith, M., Guess, A. M., Benjamin, T., & Jones, B. K. (2013). Geotheorizing black/land: Contestations and contingent collaborations. Departures in Critical Qualitative Research, 3(1), 52–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2015). Advancing sustainable materials management: Facts and figures 2013. Washington, DC: U.S. EPA.Google Scholar
  92. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2016). Water resources. Retrieved from
  93. Van Dooren, T. (2014). Flight ways: Life and loss at the edge of extinction. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  94. Waller, T., Ärlemalm-Hagsér, E., Hansen Sandseter, E. B., Lee-Hammond, L., Lekies, K. S., & Wyver, S. (Eds.). (2017). SAGE handbook of outdoor play and learning. London: SAGE.Google Scholar
  95. Whyte, K. (2017). Indigenous climate change studies: Indigenizing futures, decolonizing the Anthropocene. English Language Notes, 55(1–2), 153–162.Google Scholar
  96. Wynter, S. (1984). The ceremony must be found: After humanism. Boundary, 2, 19–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Wynter, S. (1994). No humans involved: An open letter to my colleagues. Forum N.H.I.: Knowledge for the 21st Century, 1(1), 42–73.Google Scholar
  98. Wynter, S. (2003). Unsettling the coloniality of being/power/truth/freedom: Towards the human, after man, its overrepresentation – An argument. New Centennial Review, 3(3), 257–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Curriculum & Instruction, College of EducationUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Amy Cutter-Mackenzie
    • 1
  • Karen Malone
    • 2
  • Marianne Krasny
    • 3
  • Hilary Whitehouse
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Education, Gold Coast CampusSouthern Cross UniversityGold CoastAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Educational ResearchWestern Sydney UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  4. 4.James Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations