The bodily space of New Zealand education

Year: 2012

Author: Locke, Kirsten

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


This paper explores what I analyse as the 'fractal' dimensions of the New Zealand state education space as moving beyond the reflected image of a nation's ideal of the educated subject, to one in which the spatial dimensions of 'body as state', 'body as curriculum' and 'body as subject' appear in the same form and embody the same tensions and contradictions. The argument lies in the inherent contradiction embodied in all three spatial configurations that deal with the competing forces of social justice and democracy on one hand, with the wider imperatives of neoliberal global capitalism on the other. The purpose of the paper is to analyse the way in which 'state' 'curriculum' and 'subject' have amalgamated and self-constituted these competing forces in ways that may be considered fragmentary when viewed in isolation, but ultimately carry the same problematic dimensions that ensure an uneasy fit with neoliberal globalisation when viewed from afar. At issue is not simply an identity crisis reflected in New Zealand's state education and its struggle to accommodate traditional social-democratic ideals in neoliberal global contexts, although it is that too. Rather, the point of the paper is to investigate the ways the architectonic dimensions of the space of education has redefined itself to absorb these contradictions at every level, morphing into something more 'bodily', more amorphous, and potentially much harder to define. The point of this analysis is to generate a more effective means of analysing New Zealand and its 'body' of education in relation to the spatial global dimensions of neoliberal capitalism, to offer, tentatively, portents on where New Zealand education might be heading and ways the democratic ideals that have been held on to for much of our history, might continue to be accommodated.