Posthuman Theory and Practice in Early Years Learning

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


This childhood/nature chapter was provoked by curiosity about the rise of posthuman theorizing in early years learning research and practice. Set in the context of the Anthropocene as the age of human entanglement in the fate of the planet, it takes the view that the primary task of this time is to develop new understandings of the human and new concepts of thought (Colebrook, Extinction: framing the end of the species. Open Humanities Press, 2010). Early childhood has led the field of education in the development and application of posthuman theorizing in response to this imperative, prompting the explorations of the chapter. A review of the literature in this field resulted in the identification of three distinct areas of posthuman theoretical activity: new materialism, child-animal relations, and Indigenous-nonindigenous intersections. The third category Indigenous-nonindigenous intersections which draws primarily on Indigenous theorizing was so divergent from the others, and so complex, as to be considered outside the scope of this chapter. In gathering the various papers together to make sense of the literature in each of new materialism and child-animal relations, different modes of analysis were called for. New materialism in early childhood education and practice is considered using a genealogical generational analysis following the work of Van der Tuin (Generational feminism: new materialist introduction to a generative approach. Lexington Books, London, 2014), while child-animal relations prompted an analytical approach involving Haraway’s bag lady method following Taylor, Blaise, and Giugni (Discourse Stud Cult Polit Educ 34(1):48–62, 2013). A particularly interesting and curious finding was that “life” emerged as a major theme from new materialism and “death” from child-animal relations in keeping with the paradoxical nature of the Anthropocene.


Posthuman New materialism Child-animal relations Early childhood Anthropocene 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Western Sydney UniversityPenrithAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Karen Malone
    • 1
  • Iris Duhn
    • 2
  • Marek Tesar
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Educational ResearchWestern Sydney UniversitySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of Education, Peninsula CampusMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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