29 SES 11, Spaces and processes of learning through the arts
The purpose of the study is to begin to trace the complex relational assemblages around artmaking in different early-years settings in a particular disadvantaged community by which practice of social inclusion and exclusion is co-constructed with the tentative research question: How are social inclusion and exclusion around artmaking made and lived through socio-material entanglements in different early-years settings in one community? Moreover, the aim is to highlight the affective moments generated in and around artmaking that introduce change and thus challenge and shape practices of social inclusion and exclusion through the dynamics of interaction by asking: What embodied affective engagements are produced during artmaking and how do they transform the practices of social inclusion and exclusion?
This study asserts the important role that materiality of artmaking processes plays in shaping social practices in early-years settings. Applying the notion of affective assemblage derived from Deleuze and Guattari’s writings (1996) to the study of early-years, artmaking activities, the aim is to show how new materialist and posthumanist theories enable us to better understand inclusive education as a spatial and temporal phenomenon enacted through affective interactions. Artmaking is thus viewed as a particular space where social inclusion and exclusion unfolds through the affective, bodily relations among its varied human and non-human members. Using Bennett’s concept of distributed agency, which emphasizes the vital role of non-human matter in the materiality of assemblage (2010, p.24), the aim of this study then is to understand how the agential assemblage produces change and thus condition of possibility.
The goal of this research study is to shed light on and rethink practices of social inclusion and exclusion around artmaking within the context of early-years settings located in a disadvantaged community in the Czech Republic where most children from low socio-economic backgrounds, majority of them Roma, experience an unequal access to education. The premise being that, if we are to improve practices of social inclusion, we must first understand them through their complexity and multiplicity, together with the forces of inclusion and exclusion that push and pull active/acting bodies together and apart. To do that, the study draws attention to the knowledge produced by a particular community as well as the community’s collective agency. Rather than focusing on the experience of isolated individuals this project focuses on the shared experiences of a group. Posthumanist scholars, such as Haraway (1988), remind us that ‘who speaks’ is always, and inescapably, ‘a community’ (p.590). The study is therefore aligned with the posthumanist idea that difference is irreducible, and the notion of local knowledge is radically multiple and relational.
Introducing the notion of relational difference into the field of arts education and social inclusion proposes that it is only by bringing differences together that new ways of being and becoming are imaginable. Moreover, it suggests that matter is interdependent and thus we cannot act and produce change without affecting each other. Tynell (2016) argues, drawing on the work of Gert Biesta and Hannah Arendt, that the contemporary notion of inclusion within educational research and practice through a posthumanist perspective lies “in the ability to together move and be moved by the other” (p.47). He uses Biesta’s notion of democratic education as a place where a specific kind of plurality is enacted through radical difference to remind us that it is through our differences brought about by socio-material interactions that conditions of possibility occur. Artmaking then brings about a particular set of affective engagements and thus presents us with the opportunity to broaden our understanding of the role of art education in the processes of social inclusion and exclusion in early-years settings.
This study is a qualitative study which adopts an ethnographic approach to data collection and a new materialist theoretical framework. Its aim is to collect rich data on micro-level relational processes through the following methods: participant observation, conversational interviews, and multimedia methods. The conceptualization of ethnography as a methodology and its purpose in this study is strongly influenced by the work of Hammersley (2006), who describes ethnography as a “form of social research that emphasizes the importance of studying at first-hand what people do and say in particular context (p.4).” This research study aligns with several traditional aspects of ethnography and emphasizes their importance, yet it also adopts the ontological and epistemological foundations of new materialism to challenge previous understandings. The aim is to aid the discourse on the role and function of ethnography in contemporary research. This is why the study attempts to understand participants’ perspectives and their context by actively engaging in conversations and listening to oral stories in and outside of the participating early-years settings. Furthermore, it seeks to expand the historical perspective of the settings and the community they are located in while being reflexive about the researcher’s insider/outsider roles. The study also attempts to account for natural interactions and minimize reactivity, yet, at the same time, in the new materialist vein, it recognizes the problematic role of the researcher as fundamentally embedded in the research setting and entwined with data (Schadler, 2018). Multimedia methods used in this study, particularly the use of a small 360 degrees cameras, underline the researcher’s positioning and account for different perspectives that capture interactions along different lines of sight. The intention is to move past the traditional top down perspective of a single view camera. A 360° camera provides an immersive perspective that has the potential to account for the multimodal character of interactions in early-years settings. Attention is therefore paid to both social and material interactions such as the way engaging objects change classroom relations or the way versatile objects change pedagogic practice. If bodies and objects are mutually implicated as Massumi (2002) writes, the productive site, where knowledge is produced, is therefore located in the entangled ‘intra-actions’ (Barad, 2001), in a place where matter affects other matter and is affected in the process. Placing a 360° camera at the epicentre of interactions highlights “micro-political relations that constitute the beginning of social change” (Hickey-Moody and Crowley, 2010, p.401).
Preliminary findings show that a new materialist lens is useful when studying early-years classrooms where multimodal communication is central to most interactions. The initial data analysis also reveals that the processes of social inclusion and exclusion are a collective, creative and constructive practice of spatial and temporal character. Finally, this study also argues for greater objectivity and detachment in art education research. It suggests that instead of merely investigating the positive effects of artmaking in settings working with young children and their families, it is essential to consider how the micro-political relations around artmaking enable both inclusion and exclusion. It is therefore suggested that art education in early-years classrooms should be examined as a relational practice where affective assemblage of its various actors actively shapes classroom practices in unexpected directions.
1. Barad, K. (2001). ‘Re(con)figuring Space, Time and Matter’, pp. 75–109 in M. Dekoven (ed.) Feminist Locations. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. 2. Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. London: Duke University Press. 3. Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (2004). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia (B. Massumi, Trans.). New York: Continuum. 4. Haraway, D. (1988). Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. Feminist Studies, 14(3), pp. 575–99. 5. Hickey Moody, A. and Crowley, V. (2010). Introduction: Disability Matters: Pedagogy, Media and Affect. Discourse: Issues in the Cultural Politics of Education, 31(4), pp. 399-409. 6. Hammersley, M. (2006). Ethnography: Problems and prospects. Ethnography and Education, 1(1), pp. 3-14. doi:10.1080/17457820500512697 7. Massumi, B. (2002). Parables for the virtual: Movement, affect, sensation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 8. Schadler, C. (2018). Enactments of a new materialist ethnography: methodological framework and research processes. Qualitative Research, 00(0), pp. 1-16. doi: 10.1177/1468794117748877 journals.sagepub.com/home/qrj 9. Tynell, S. (2016). Move-ability: A philosophy of education study that develops an alternative understanding of inclusion through posthumanist theories using diffractive reading.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
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