Place narratives: making visible entangled relations in early childhood.

Year: 2018

Author: Hamm, Catherine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this presentation I share place narratives drawn from the “Out and About” research project in Victoria, Australia. These narratives activate local, Indigenous worldviews that focus on relationships (not exclusively human ones), relationality and circular ways of knowing (Martin, 2016) that are always present in ordinary, everyday moments. I argue that disrupting western, linear worldviews that occupy much space in early childhood and positioning place as a ‘pedagogical contact zone’ generates new practices that engage with our ethical and political response-abilities (Haraway, 2008) of living in places of ongoing settler colonialism. A pedagogical contact zone draws from Donna Haraway’s notion of ‘contact zone’ of entanglement. Contact zones are entanglements of  “diverse bodies and meanings [that] coshape one another…The partners do not precede the meeting; species of all kinds, living and not, are consequent on a subject and object-shaping dance of encounters” (Haraway, 2008, p. 4).

Inspired by ‘lively stories’ (Van Dooran, 2014) and ‘place stories’ (Nxumalo & Cedillo, 2017), place narratives are a way to make visible entanglements and complexity in our everyday places. The practice of crafting place narratives is theoretically situated within a Common Worlds framework (Taylor & Giugni, 2012) and draws on Latour’s assertion that humans and more-than-human are entangled with nature, rather than separated from it (Latour, 2004a). Common or shared worlds are the situated and everyday contexts that humans and more-than- humans share. The notion of common worlds requires a shift towards acknowledging that more-than human others are always present in the places where we (humans) live. A common worlds framework is productive in relation to engaging with Aboriginal perspectives of place, as space is generated to pay attention to more than just human society, we can ‘attend and attune to questions of the world’ (Ratio, 2016). This way of attuning situates place as a ‘pedagogical contact zone’ (Common Worlds Research Collective, 2016). Place narratives make meaning of our (human) entanglements with the more-than-human and creates space for making public stories that meaning do not have ‘neat and tidy’ endings and make room for distinct voices to be highlighted (Martin, 2016 ).