PhD_THESIS_Becoming_gendered_bodies_A_po - Becoming gendered bodies A posthuman analysis of how gender is produced in an early childhood classroom

PhD_THESIS_Becoming_gendered_bodies_A_po - Becoming...

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Unformatted text preview: Becoming gendered bodies: A posthuman analysis of how gender is produced in an early childhood classroom For consideration of the award: Doctor of Philosophy Jennifer Lyttleton-Smith Cardiff University, 2015 DECLARATION This work has not been submitted in substance for any other degree or award at this or any other university or place of learning, nor is being submitted concurrently in candidature for any degree or other award. Signed …………..........................................(candidate) Date ……………………. STATEMENT 1 This thesis is being submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of ……………………(insert MCh, MD, MPhil, PhD etc, as appropriate) Signed …………...........................................(candidate) Date ……………………. STATEMENT 2 This thesis is the result of my own independent work/investigation, except where otherwise stated. Other sources are acknowledged by explicit references. The views expressed are my own. Signed …………...........................................(candidate) Date ……………………. STATEMENT 3 I hereby give consent for my thesis, if accepted, to be available for photocopying and for inter-library loan, and for the title and summary to be made available to outside organisations. Signed …………...........................................(candidate) Date ……………………. i Thesis Summary In this thesis I explore how gender features in the experiences of nursery age children in South Wales, using a new feminist materialist theoretical framework to inform an analysis that moves away from the binary separation of the social and material spheres. Drawing on a year of ethnographic data produced through participant observation in a state school nursery located in a deprived suburban area, I examine small ‘moments of emergence’ where gender is produced within the spaces and relationships of the nursery. I take a posthumanist stance to these emergences, where I do not locate the children themselves as agential producers of gender, but instead trace how human and non-human bodies and discourses work through space and time to delineate subjects and objects in gendering ways. Through doing so I shift focus from a purely social understanding of how gender roles are transferred to young children and instead encourage a holistic view of how environments, matter, and temporality combine with discourse through multiple and complex pathways to create continuous and flexible (re)iterations of gender emergence. I argue that it is only when we appreciate the complexity of these emergences that we can seek to positively impact children’s gender experiences in effective ways. ii Acknowledgements Thank you to my supervisors, Debbie Epstein and Emma Renold, for their unrelenting patience, incisive critiques, lively engagement, and warm pastoral care over the past five years. It has been a pleasure and a deeply felt privilege to work with them on this project. Thank you also to Karen Henwood for her chapter comments, advice, and kind encouragement throughout the PhD. Thank you to the teachers, and parents who participated in my research, and everyone at ‘Hillside School’ for being so welcoming. Most of all, thank you to the children featured in these pages who made that year of fieldwork so full of laughter as they so generously and openly shared their lives with me. Thank you to my academic and feminist friends who have supported me throughout this project intellectually and personally, particularly Chris, Constantino, Dave, Esther, Hannah Austin, Joe, Josie, and Naomi. Most of all, I must thank Hannah O’Mahoney whose intelligence is matched only by her kindness and general hilarity. Thank you to my colleagues on the Imitation Game project, who despite our radically different approaches to sociological theory, have been nothing but supportive of me as I completed my PhD: Harry Collins, Rob Evans, Martin Hall, and, particularly, Martin Weinel. Thank you to all my parents - David, Sandra, Eileen, Tony, Alison, and Martin – but most of all to David for helping us financially when times were tough and to Sandra and Eileen for the countless hours of babysitting. Also to my wonderful sisters, Cat and Liz, and to Charlie. Thank you to my non-academic friends who offered me so much outside of work: Anita, Beth, Daryl, Kath, Liz, Ray, Sarah-Jayne, and Siân. Most importantly, thank you to Siôn, my partner and inspiration in everything I do, unflinching in his support for all my endeavours, and to Oscar, for allowing me just enough sleep to finish this thesis during his first six months of life. iii Contents Chapter 1: Introduction ............................................................................... 1 Arguing with Biology ........................................................................................................... 1 Chapter Structure ............................................................................................................... 4 “You’re not coming to my party”: Desire, Gender, and Boundaries of Subjectivation ....... 7 Project Summary .............................................................................................................. 13 Origins, Beginnings, and (Never)Endings .................................................................... 13 Research Aim............................................................................................................... 15 Theoretical Framework: A New Materialist Approach to Gender in Early Childhood .. 15 Methodology and Research Design ............................................................................. 18 The Research Setting and Implementation ................................................................. 21 Research Questions .................................................................................................... 22 Thesis Outline .................................................................................................................. 23 Chapter 2: Contested Subjects ................................................................ 30 Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 30 Chapter Structure ............................................................................................................. 30 A Note on ‘Heteronormativity’ ...................................................................................... 32 Developmental Perspectives ............................................................................................ 34 Schooling Sexualities: Gender and the Early Years Classroom ...................................... 39 Preschool Peer Relationship Cultures ............................................................................. 41 Active Agents: The Critical Literacy of Early Childhood ................................................... 44 Assemblages and Becomings: Materialism, and Early Years Research ......................... 48 New Directions? ............................................................................................................... 52 Innovative Contributions of this Study to Gender and Childhood Research .................... 53 Conclusion ........................................................................................................................ 54 Chapter 3: Theorising Gendered Subjectivity in Early Childhood ........ 56 Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 56 Chapter Structure ............................................................................................................. 58 Power and the Foucauldian Subject ................................................................................ 59 “Foucault’s Vanishing Body”: Critiquing the Poststructuralist Subject ......................... 62 Merging Foucault and Barad........................................................................................ 64 The Subject of Maya .................................................................................................... 65 Theorisations of Sex/Gender and the Gendered Subject ................................................ 67 iv Structuralist Sex/Gender Dualism ................................................................................ 67 The Gendered Foucauldian Subject in Early Childhood .............................................. 70 Subjects of Inequality: Gender and (Compulsory) Heterosexuality ............................. 72 Butler, Bodies, and Subjectivity: Locating the Performative Subject ............................... 74 Performing the Embodied Subject ............................................................................... 75 The Constitution of the Subject through Desire ........................................................... 76 Critiquing Butler’s Subject ............................................................................................ 77 Using Butler with Gender in Early Childhood ............................................................... 78 Breaking the Binary: Forays into New Feminist Materialism ............................................ 80 Intra-Action and Agency in an Agential-Realist Theoretical Approach ........................ 83 Baradian Agency and the Production of Gender ......................................................... 85 A Baradian subject? ..................................................................................................... 87 Desire and Agential Cuts: Defining Subject/Object Relations ..................................... 89 Free Will and Agency: A Baradian Ethics .................................................................... 90 Using Agential-Realism to Understand Gender in Early Childhood ............................ 92 Conclusion ........................................................................................................................ 93 Chapter 4: Conducting New Feminist Materialist Ethnography ............ 94 An Introductory Note on Becoming Ethnographer ........................................................... 94 Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 95 Chapter Structure ............................................................................................................. 96 Developing the Research Methodology and Design ........................................................ 97 Pilot Study ...................................................................................................................... 101 Research Site and Participants ...................................................................................... 104 About Hillside Nursery ............................................................................................... 104 Consent and Participation .......................................................................................... 106 Home Visits ................................................................................................................ 108 Access and Attendance in the Nursery .......................................................................... 109 Data Production .............................................................................................................. 110 Performance, Positioning, and Participant Observation ................................................ 111 Too Close? ................................................................................................................. 115 Thinking with Theory: A diffractive analysis of ethnographic data ................................. 118 No Anchors: Agential Cuts and the Ethnographic Self in Writing .............................. 121 Response-ability and the Ethnographic Self .............................................................. 122 Structuring the Thesis ................................................................................................ 123 Limitations of the Study .................................................................................................. 124 v Chapter 5: Mapping the Nursery: The Spacetimemattering of Gender ........................................................................................................................ 127 Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 127 Chapter Structure ........................................................................................................... 129 Material Change and the Emergence of Gender ........................................................... 130 Gendered/Gendering Spaces: The Home Corner and the Small World ........................ 131 Worlds Apart .............................................................................................................. 131 Time and Change ...................................................................................................... 133 Tidyness/Messiness ................................................................................................... 136 Location and Visibility ................................................................................................ 137 Toy/Activity Content/ Quantity and Arrangement of Objects in Play ......................... 139 Building Work and Silly Things: Gendering in the Small World ..................................... 141 The Teapot Rebellion: Gendering in the Home Corner ................................................. 143 The Scramble Wall: Challenge and Sanctuary in the Playground ................................. 146 Girls, Boys, and Exercise Play ................................................................................... 148 Intra-active Gendering and the Scramble Wall .......................................................... 149 Gendering Playground-Based Activity ....................................................................... 150 Gendering Spacetimematterings .................................................................................... 153 Conclusion ...................................................................................................................... 155 Chapter 6: Non-Human Bodies: Mapping Entangled Objects and Gendering Enactments ................................................................................. 157 Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 157 Chapter Structure ........................................................................................................... 157 Trains, Planes, and Automobiles: Vehicles for Power ................................................... 158 Girls, Dresses, and Becoming Princesses ..................................................................... 161 Entanglements with Clothing ..................................................................................... 161 Attraction and Girl Bodies .......................................................................................... 163 Desiring Princessness ............................................................................................... 164 Performing Discursive-Material Princessness................................................................ 166 Unprincessing? .......................................................................................................... 170 Wild Animalising: Enactments and Rejections of Aggression ........................................ 173 Legitimised Violence .................................................................................................. 174 Enacting Dominance .................................................................................................. 177 Fake Plastic Subjects: Doing Gender with Dolls ............................................................ 179 Doll Play ..................................................................................................................... 180 Imitation Subjects ....................................................................................................... 181 vi “I don’t like babies… I like boys”: Acting on Anger with Dolls .................................... 181 Conclusion ...................................................................................................................... 188 Chapter 7: Becoming Gendered Bodies ................................................ 191 Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 191 Chapter Structure ........................................................................................................... 192 Becoming Beast: Dominant and submissive bodies ...................................................... 193 Good Cats, Bad Cats, and Tigers: Domestic Animalising and Hetero-fantasy ......... 194 Monstering Boy Bodies .............................................................................................. 198 Becoming Benign: Vulnerable and Caring Bodies ......................................................... 205 Becoming Big and Strong: (In)capable bodies ............................................................... 208 Size, Age, and Gendered Power ............................................................................... 211 Becoming Bad: Aggressive and Rebellious Bodies ....................................................... 212 Bodies that Gender ........................................................................................................ 222 Bodies that Desire ...................................................................................................... 222 Becoming Gendered, Becoming Desired: A brief return to the subject ......................... 224 “He can’t wear that one”: A Private Party .................................................................. 224 “I’ll marry you, Katie”: Boundaries of Desire .............................................................. 227 “I’m waking you up”: Heterosexualising Gender ........................................................ 232 Conclusions: Desire as Agency ..................................................................................... 236 Chapter 8: Conclusion ............................................................................ 237 Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 237 Research Questions and Findings ................................................................................. 239 Locating Gender in Early Childhood Studies ................................................................. 252 References ................................................................................................ 254 1 Chapter 1: Introduction Arguing with Biology To treat a baby as gender-neutral, as an ‘it’ rather than a ‘he’ or a ‘she’, therefore, is tantamount to denying its (or perhaps I should say his or her) humanity (Burman, 1995:49) On the 21st May 2011 the Toronto Star newspaper carried an article featuring Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, a local couple who had recently celebrated the birth of their third child. Over the next few days the story became an international phenomenon and reappeared in other newspapers, magazines, and blogs around the world. Readers were eager to have their say and the comment sections of major online publications soon overflowed with their opinions on the new arrival. Some were supportive and congratulatory, but many contributors met the news with confusion or denial, and, in some cases, outright anger and condemnation. The source of...
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