Posthumanist Approaches to Theorizing Children’s Human-Nature Relations

  • Karen Malone
Reference work entry
Part of the Geographies of Children and Young People book series (GCYP, volume 3)


By exploring and reconsidering the view of children’s encounters with nature from a posthumanist perspective, this chapter seeks to dismantle rather than support constructions of a nature-culture binary. A posthumanist approach adopts the tools of new materialism by allowing for the rereading of research data by decentering the human and attending to the complexity of child-nature relations. This work is done in order to unpack the means through which romanticized notions of children’s “nature” experiences can be embedded in Western-centric literature in the child-nature movement, a movement that is having significant currency in environmental and sustainability education literature as well. To illustrate the importance of including a diversity of stories of children-nature relations, and to explore the challenges in rereading research through these theoretical lenses, two contrasting cases are explored. One of the cases emerges from research conducted in Semey, a city on the northeast border of Kazakhstan where issues of nuclear radiation are a historical concern and the second draws on children’s encounters of “grubs” and “worms” in an early childhood center in Melbourne, Australia. I have deliberately set out in this chapter to reveal the messiness of documenting and theorizing children’s encounters with the environment in order to open up new imaginings of childhood, nature, and education.


Children and nature Posthumanism New materialism Environmental education Nature education Childhood research 


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Copyright information

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Australia, as represented by University of Western Sydney 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Educational ResearchUniversity of Western SydneyPenrithAustralia

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