Advertisement

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)

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

References

  1. Barad, K. (1997). Meeting the universe halfway: realism and social constructivism without contradiction. In L. H. Nelson & J. Nelson (Eds.), Feminism, science, and the philosophy of science (pp. 161–194). Dordrecht/Boston: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  2. Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham/London: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant matter: A political ecology of things. London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Braidotti, R. (2013). The posthuman. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  5. Clarke, D., & Mcphie, J. (2014). Becoming animate in education: Immanent materiality and outdoor learning for sustainability. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 14(3), 198–216. doi:10.1080/14729679.2014.919866.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Crutzen, P. (2002). Geology of mankind. Nature, 415, 23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dickinson, E. (2013). The misdiagnosis: Rethinking “nature-deficit disorder”. Environmental Communication, 7(3), 315–414. doi:10.1080/17524032.2013.802704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Evans, G., Gernot, B., Aliya, H., Rachel, S., Kimberly, W., & Shapiro, E. (2007a). Young children’s environmental attitudes and behavior. Environment and Behavior, 39(5), 635–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Evans, G., Juen, B., Corral-Verdugo, V., Corraliza, J. A., & Kaiser, F. G. (2007b). Children’s cross-cultural environmental attitudes and self-reported behaviors. Children, Youth and Environments, 17(4), 128–143.Google Scholar
  10. Fox, N., & Alldred, P. (2014). New materialist social inquiry: Designs, methods and research assemblage. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 18(4), 399–414. doi:10.1080/13645579.2014.921458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gill, T. (2007). No Fear: Growing up in a risk averse society. London: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.Google Scholar
  12. Haraway, D. (2003). The companion species manifesto: Dogs, people and significant otherness. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.Google Scholar
  13. Haraway, D. (2008). When species meet. Minneapolis/London: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  14. Haraway, D. (2015). Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making kin. Environmental Humanities, 6, 159–165. Retrieved from http://environmentalhumanities.org CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Harker, C. (2005). Playing and affective time-spaces. Children’s Geographies, 3(1), 47–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kahn, P., & Kellert, S. (Eds.). (2002). Children and nature: Psychological, sociocultural, and evolutionary investigations. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  17. Kraftl, P. (2014). Geographies of alternative education: Diverse learning spaces for children and young people. Bristol: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  18. Lee, N. (2013). Childhood and biopolitics: Climate change, life processes and human futures. London: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lenz-Taguchi, H. (2011). Investigating learning, participation and becoming in early childhood practices with a relational materialist approach. Global Studies of Childhood, 1(1), 36–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lorimer, J. (2012). Multinatural geographies for the Anthropocene. Progress in Human Geography, 36(5), 593–612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Louv, R. (2005). Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books.Google Scholar
  22. Louv, R. (2011). The nature principle. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books.Google Scholar
  23. Malone, K. (2004). “Holding environments”: Creating spaces to support children’s environmental learning in the 21st century. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 20, 53–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Malone, K. (2007). The Bubble-wrap generation: Children growing up in walled gardens. Environmental Education Researcher, 13(4), 513–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Malone, K. (2015). Theorizing a child–dog encounter in the slums of La Paz using post-humanistic approaches in order to disrupt universalisms in current ‘child in nature’ debates. Children’s Geographies. doi:10.1080/14733285.2015.1077369.Google Scholar
  26. Morton, T. (2007). Ecology without nature: Rethinking environmental aesthetics. London: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Phenice, L. A., & Griffore, R. J. (2003). Young children and the natural environment. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 4(2), 167–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rautio, P. (2013a). Children who carry stones in their pockets: On autotelic material practices in everyday life. Children’s Geographies, 11(4), 394–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Rautio, P. (2013b). Mingling and imitating in producing spaces for knowing and being: Insights from a Finnish study of child-matter intra-action. Childhood, 21(4), 461–474. doi:10.1177/0907568213496653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rotas, N. (2015). Ecologies of Praxis: Teaching and leaning against the obvious. In N. Snaza & J. Weaver (Eds.), Posthumanism and educational research. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Shaviro, S. (1995). Two lessons from Burroughs. In J. Halberstam & I. Livingston (Eds.), Posthuman bodies. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Smith, M. (2013). Ecological community, the sense of the world, and senseless extinction. Environmental Humanities, 2, 21–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sobel, D. (1996). Beyond ecophobia: Reclaiming the heart in nature education. Great Barrington: The Orion Society.Google Scholar
  34. Taylor, A. (2011). Reconceptualising the nature of childhood. Childhood, 18(4), 420–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Taylor, A. (2013). Reconfiguring the natures of childhood. Oxon/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Taylor, C. A., & Ivinson, G. (2013). Material feminisms: New directions for education. Gender and Education, 25, 665–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Taylor, A., & Pacini-Ketchabaw, V. (2015). Learning with children, ants, and worms in the Anthropocene: Towards a common world pedagogy of multispecies vulnerability. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 23(4), 507–529. doi:10.1080/14681366.2015.1039050.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Taylor, A., Blaise, M., & Guigni, M. (2013). Haraway’s ‘bag lady story-telling’: Relocating childhood and learning within a ‘post-human landscape’. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 34(1), 48–62.Google Scholar
  39. Tipper, B. (2011). A dog who I know quite well’ everyday relationships between children and animals. Children’s Geographies, 9(2), 145–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wals, A. (1994a). Pollution stinks. De Lier: Academic Book Centre.Google Scholar
  41. Wals, A. (1994b). Nobody planted it, it just grew! young adolescents’ perceptions and the experience of nature in the context of urban environmental education. Children’s Environments, 11(3), 1–27.Google Scholar
  42. Wilson, E. (1984). Biophilia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Wilson, R. (1994). Preschool children’s perspectives on the environment. Paper presented at the North American Association for Environmental Education, Cancun.Google Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations