1st Edition

Decolonizing Place in Early Childhood Education

By Fikile Nxumalo Copyright 2019
    178 Pages 44 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    178 Pages 44 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book draws attention to the urgent need for early childhood education to critically encounter and pedagogically respond to the entanglements of environmentally damaged places, anti-blackness, and settler colonial legacies. Drawing from the author’s multi-year participatory action research with educators and children in suburban settings, the book highlights Indigenous presences and land relations within ongoing settler colonialism as necessary, yet often ignored, aspects of environmental education. Chapters discuss topics such as: geotheorizing in a capitalist society, absences of Black place relations, and unsettling unquestioned Western assumptions about nature education. Rather than offer prescriptive solutions, this book works to broaden possibilities and bolster the conversation among teachers and scholars concerned with early years environmental education.

    Series Editors’ Introduction

    [Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang]

    1.Situating orientations

    2.Storying practices of witnessing: Refiguring quality in everyday encounters

    3.Refiguring presences

    4.Unsettling forest encounters

    5.Restorying garden relations

    6.Geotheorizing place relations

    7.Living with bee death

    8.Inhabiting a Black Anthropocene

    Moving forward: Toward decolonial place encounters in early childhood education


    Fikile Nxumalo is Assistant Professor of Diversity and Place in Teaching and Teacher Education in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada.

    "In this groundbreaking work, Dr. Fikile Nxumalo invites critical thinkers, educators, and activists into a series of unsettling pedagogies of resistance and geographies of radical kinship. Dr. Nxumalo asks us to reimagine the practices of early childhood education, and environmental education in historically contextualized, politically demystified, and ethically-reflexive ways. Through interrogations of anthropogenic, anti-Black and settler colonial complicities in early childhood education, Dr. Nxumalo opens up new possibilities for ethical living and learning– a radically relational kinship with all of our relations. Situated in a compelling critical analysis of environmental degradation, precariousness, and exploitation, Dr. Nxumalo offers a timely intervention in the field of education. In contrast to preoccupation with psychocentric notions of complex trauma and damage-centered narratives of childhood, Dr. Nxumalo calls educators to take seriously the structural materiality of violence and alterities to it. To chart these unknown futures, Dr. Nxumalo brilliantly theorizes with Black, Indigenous, post-humanist, and feminist studies¬; and invites us to consider refiguring presence, witnessing, friction, and the super-complexity of ethical entanglements with one another and more-than-human life. This book is nothing short of strong medicine–to affirm Black and Indigenous life, futures and freedoms; and to call us to action towards different ways of being and doing with, and of land, water, and more than human life. This book should be required reading in studies in education, not only for its incredible theoretical contribution, but for the ways it will enliven radical imagination and movements of resistance."

    —Jeffrey P. Ansloos, Assistant Professor of Indigenous Mental Health and Education, University of Toronto–Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Canada


    "Decolonizing Place in Early Childhood Education by Dr. Fikile Nxumalo should be required reading for educators, researchers and students concerned with the most salient challenges facing early childhood education in the age of the Anthropocene. Dr. Nxumalo builds on decades of experience as an early years scholar, pedagogista, and early years practitioner to offer boldly reimagined theoretical work that disrupts the compromised white anthropocentric anchors of traditional early years education.

    The volume draws from Nxumalo’s sustained engagement with early years research sites and practice in settler colonial contexts. A lively transdisciplinary dialogue is enacted through concrete examples that reconfigure children’s messy entanglements with the more than human, including mountains, fallen trees, bees, worms and gardens. Chapters are anchored around new theoretical and methodological frames, such as refiguring presence, geotheorizing, and testifying-witnessing. Each frame is a call to action to meticulously destabilize the damaging logics of settler colonial anthropocentrism. While holding space for the many promises of posthumanist and more-than-human perspectives, Nxumalo confronts their limitations for resolving the persistent Western appropriation of Indigenous world making and place relations. The standout final chapter proposes an ethico-ontological framework for nuanced, contingent alliances among Black and Indigenous pedagogies that tackles questions of (de)coloniality across transits of empire.

    This vibrant volume brings a provocative and resoundingly productive vision to bear on the thick ethical conundrum of early childhood education in settler states."

    —Sandrina de Finney, Associate Professor, School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria, Canada