‘seeing’ with/in the world: becoming-little





early childhood education, posthumanism, temporal diffraction, Barad, critical geography, subjectivity


Critical posthumanism is an invitation to think differently about knowledge and educational relationality between humans and the more-than-human. This philosophical and political shift in subjectivity builds on, and is entangled with, poststructuralism and phenomenology. In this paper we read diffractively through one another the theories of Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa and feminist posthumanists Karen Barad and Rosi Braidotti. We explore the implications of the so-called ‘ontological turn’ for early childhood education. With its emphasis on a moving away from the dominant role of human vision (knowing and seeing) in educational research we show how videoing and photographing works as an apparatus in an analysis of data from an inner-city school in Johannesburg, South Africa. We are struck by children’s seeing with the ‘eyes of their skin’ (Pallasmaa) and ‘seeing’ with/in the world (posthumanism), as their obvious distress is felt when a small tree sapling has been mowed down in a nearby park. We analyse the event with the help of a variation on Deleuze’s notion of ‘becoming-child’: ‘becoming-little’, and Anna Tsing’s ‘the arts of noticing’. ‘Becoming-little’ as a methodology disrupts the adult/child binary that positions ‘little’, younger humans as inferior to their ‘bigger’ fully human counterparts. We exemplify ‘becoming-little’ through 4 and 5 year-olds’ learning with the little tree and adopt Barad’s temporal diffraction to ‘see’ what is in/visible in the park: the extractive, exploitative, colonising mining practices of White settlers. These are still part of the land on which the park was created but are in/visible beneath the ‘skin’ of the earth.

Author Biographies

theresa magdalen giorza, university of the witwatersrand

Theresa Giorza is a lecturer in the Foundation Studies Division at The University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa). She studied Philosophy with Children with Karin Murris and completed her PhD in 2018. She is completing a monograph which will be published by Springer in 2021. Theresa currently leads a P4C community of practice in Johannesburg and is active in the Africa Reggio Emilia Alliance and civil society organisations promoting creative early childhood education. Her research interests also include posthumanist pedagogies and visual research methodologies. 

karin murris, university of oulu, finland university of cape town, south africa

Karin Murris holds a PhD in Philosophy with Children. She is a Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Oulu (Finland) and Emerita Professor of Education at University of Cape Town (South Africa) where she led the Southern African Philosophy for Children Network. She studied with Matthew Lipman and Ann Margaret Sharp in the U.S. and is past president of the International Council of Philosophical Inquiry with Children (ICPIC) (2015-2017). Karin is co-editor of the Routledge International Handbook of Philosophy for Children (Routledge, 2017) and is the author of Teaching Philosophy with Picture Books (Infonet, 1992), The Posthuman Child: Educational Transformation through Philosophy with Picturebooks (Routledge, 2016), and (with Joanna Haynes) Storywise: Thinking through Stories (Dialogue Works, 2002), Picturebooks, Pedagogy and Philosophy (Routledge, 2012) and Literacies, Literature and Learning: Reading Classrooms Differently (2018). She is Chief Editor of a new Routledge series on Postqualitative, New Materialist and Critical Posthumanist Research.  


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How to Cite

giorza, theresa magdalen, & murris, karin. (2021). ‘seeing’ with/in the world: becoming-little. Childhood & Philosophy, 17, 01–23. https://doi.org/10.12957/childphilo.2021.53695