RMIT University
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Affective Dustly Becomings With Child-Earth Relations and Other Matters

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posted on 2024-06-05, 04:21 authored by Yanina Carrizo
Today's global climate crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, presents an imperative for a transformation of environmental education that promotes relations and connections with multispecies and the rest of the world. This transformation requires an extension of notions of justice. It demands new knowledges and urgent actions to alleviate a looming environmental catastrophe and respond to the devastating consequences that anthropogenic activities are causing to multispecies ecologies through climate change and pollution. Given this, it is paramount for early childhood and environmental education to adopt alternative perspectives beyond humanist thought and research. This research study engages with the microscopic matter of dust. How does the agency of dust reciprocally affect-with child-earth relations during microscopic and mapping encounters? How do the entanglements and transformation of dust, child bodies and other matter ‘matter’ to? each other? Dust can be regarded as an agentic matter that ties us to capitalism, colonialism, and pollution, creative ecological microworlds and all forms of planetary lives. My study, situated in a kindergarten in Melbourne, Australia and using multispecies ethnography to research with dust and other bodies as participants and co-researchers, challenges current environmental education approaches. These approaches focus on child-centred and individualised educational frameworks and practices that centralise separation, such as human/nature and hierarchies between the human and the rest of the world, including the child as a knowing subject and the more-than-human as an object of inquiry. By focusing on dust, materials, equipment, atmospheric forces, child bodies and multiple others, the project critiques environmental education frameworks and how they fall short of acknowledging the agency, entanglements and complex interrelations of all matters. This thesis recognises the relations and connections between the human, the more-than-human and the rest of the world. This study has implications for pedagogical practices in early childhood education, requiring a step away from exclusive human agency to allow knowledge and experience to be co-constructed with multiple others.


Degree Type

Doctorate by Research


© Yanina Carrizo 2024

School name

Education, RMIT University