After the demise of apartheid, South African higher education has been concerned with gender and class, but no attention has been paid as yet to age as a category of exclusion. In particular child and childhood has not been included in postcolonial discourses about the transformation of higher educational spaces and curricula. Despite decades of sustained academic critique and contestation in early childhood research, current programmes of study globally and the pedagogies promoted in their courses still assume the essentialised, universal western child who develops according to a stage-like linear process of formation according to his or her innate potential (developmentalism).
This project seeks to bring together national and international experts from the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences, to investigate how a new theoretical framework - one that is grounded in critical posthumanism, the affective turn and socially just pedagogies can explain this injustice and inform decolonising postdevelopmental theories and practices in higher education. What will be examined in particular is how critical posthumanism could contribute towards a reconfiguration of childhood in the design and content of postcolonial curricula and research projects. It includes some internationally acclaimed experts and philosophers and early career emerging researchers, incl Karen Barad and Rosi Braidotti. More than 30 team members interact, share and disseminate ideas with each other and more broadly, through colloquia and writing workshops as well as social media and synchronous virtual meeting spaces.
This research project seeks to provide intellectual spaces - both face to face and virtual, for philosophers, theorists and practitioners to interact across diverse geographical contexts to engage in debate and deliberation about posthumanism, the affective turn and the impact that these bodies of knowledge have for decolonising early childhood, in particular developing approaches which have resonance for southern perspectives and contexts. Hence, the bringing together of highly rated experts in the field from Southern continents: Africa, South-America and Australia as well as Europe (Netherlands, Sweden, UK, Cyprus), US and Canada. One of the critiques that posthumanism is based on is the unproblematised Eurocentric character of knowledges - white, male and particularly relevant in this context, adult - which are assumed to be applicable in all contexts and which have been used to subjugate other knowledges in their dominance. The researchers on this project are acutely aware of these practices and one of the objectives of the project is to investigate and problematise knowledges from both Northern and Southern contexts, with an eye on developing and evaluating postcolonial posthumanist frameworks to innovative higher education pedagogies, research practices and academic programmes across departments and Faculties.