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Viv Bozalek, Karin Murris, Sumaya Babamia and Veronica Mitchell all DECD project members attended the AERA 2017 conference which was held in San Antonio, Texas. Take a walk with us through some of their presentations and photographs of their experiences. There were quite a few South African academics and researchers at the conference and Delphi Carstens and Brenda Leibowitz are two academics from South Africa who also presented work with some of our DECD project members.

The Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas.

River Walk, San Antonio Texas

Viv Bozalek’s account of her time at the AERA 2017 conference:

“I was part of two round table sessions - one on a paper with Karin Murris entitled 'Diffraction and Response-able Reading of Texts: The Relational Ontologies of Barad and Deleuze' which was a response to an article written by Hein on the incommensurability of the work of Barad and Deleuze. In the second round table session myself and Veronica, on behalf of a larger group of Siddique Motala and Abdullah Bayat, presented a paper entitled "Stained Glass Educator" about the continuing affective connections with Theo Combrinck, a member of our Socially Just Pedagogies research group, who had passed away. The third paper was the one entitled 'Diffraction or Reflection: Methodological Implications for Educational Research" as part of a panel of papers on Critical posthumanism and diffractive post-qualitative methodologies.

The fourth presentation - is a poster, see a photograph of it below, which I presented on behalf of Denise Newfield and I as part of an edited book on multimodal pedagogies and posthumanism planned by Candace Kuby and other US colleagues. Veronica Mitchell helped a lot with putting together the poster.

Besides being an enormous event, I found the AERA conference worthwhile attending. I was pleased to meet Carol Taylor and chat about the chapter she is writing for our forthcoming edited book published by Bloomsbury on Critical Pedagogies in Higher Education: Posthumanism and Feminist New Materialism, and to meet up with Mindy Blaise and Affrica Taylor again. Delphi Carstens from UWC accompanied me, gave two interesting papers and also had a very productive time at the conference."

Veronica Mitchell, Karin Murris, Viv Bozalek and Delphi Carstens

Africa Taylor, Nikki Rotas , Carol Rowan, Sumaya Babamia, Karin Murris , Denise Hodgins and Fikile Nxumalo

Roundtable with Delphi Carstens, Viv Bozalek, Brenda Leibowitz, Veronica Mitchell and Karin Murris

Roundtable Discussions

Karin Murris’s account of the AERA 2017 conference:

"Our symposium presentation was called: ‘Decolonizing child/adult relationships in the South African literacy curriculum: philosophical inquiry with children as posthuman pedagogy’ on 30 April 2017. Part of a symposium called Troubling Colonial Dualisms in Curriculum-Making: Critical and Generative Encounters with the More-Than-Human World in Early Childhood Education with: Affrica Taylor, Nikki Rotas, Fikile Nxumalo, and Carol Rohan. Denise Hodgins was the chair. It was great to be part of this symposium. The presentations of our co-presenters were fabulous. We presented our draft chapter of the Routledge book that will be published in April next year called: Literacies, Literature and Learning: Reading Classrooms Differently. This publication is a collaborative effort by many DECD members: Joanna Haynes, Walter Kohan, Chris Ouma, Kai Mah Wood, Patrick Rivers, Rose-Anne Reynolds, Joanne Peers, Thandeka Ncube and Theresa Giorza. In this book we are analysing data created from one philosophy with children lesson in a Grade 2 South African classroom using a posthumanist orientation. Sara Stanley is teaching the lesson and Viviane Schwarz is the author and illustrator of the picturebook that was used for the literacy lesson. Both are also DECD members.

The AREA 2017 conference was inspirational. Some 15 000 educational researchers came together and shared their research. It is always possible at this conference to put together a programme that really caters for your own interests, and in my case post qualitative research, critical posthumanism and critical childhood studies. I met many people whose work I admire and whose papers we have discussed in the reading group. The conference, hotel, and restaurants were very expensive though for us from South Africa, so Sumaya and I had real fun in going to the Special Interest Groups meetings and joining them for their annual members’ meetings in the evenings. The food and drinks were (often)for free and there was plenty of opportunity for networking, although admittedly the former was priority number one;). I stayed in the Marriott and every day I walked the Riverwalk. An absolute joy to walk past the river with all its cafes and restaurants before starting each day in stuffy, dark lecture rooms without natural light, but the walk to and from the conference centre made up for it. We also went out one night with Mindy Blaise and Affrica Taylor to a Mexican restaurant and we found out that Mindy is originally from Texas – we didn’t know this! It was great to experience a little bit of Texas outside the conference venue or its surroundings. After a lot of Mexican food and freshly made guacamole, but very little else, I was glad to come home to SA and indulge in a much wider variety of food for vegetarians. It was amazing how well represented SA was at the conference. Very impressive. There were many colleagues on the programme, but I didn’t see or managed to speak to all of them as the conference is so big that you easily miss each other. Yusuf Waghid from Stellenbosch and Mindy Blaise responded to us during the round table session. It struck me that sometimes we seem to have to travel the world to engage with each other’s work!"

The conference venue foyer

Scale of the venue

Veronica Mitchell’s account of her time at the AERA 2017 conference

"The conference centre was huge and magnificent. I found the enormity of the conference quite daunting so tended to keep to one stream of interest. One of the highlights for me at AERA was a PhD mentorship session where we were partnered with 5 experts, spending 10 mins together in a type of speed-dating process. To save costs I stayed at an Air BnB home in the suburbs which was very convenient.

​We walked through the beautiful golf course and along the river walk to get to the conference centre in town. ​It was Festival time in San Antonio so lots of activities were on in many different spots.

There was a lot of work at AERA 2017 and also some play - see some pictures of our conference goers having some down time:

Sumaya, Brenda, Viv and Delphi

Viv, Delphi and Veronica

Delphi, Dave, Veronica and Sumaya

Fiesta Time at AERA 2017

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