Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education and Care—A Reader

Critical Questions, New Imaginaries and Social Activism, Second Edition

by Marianne N. Bloch (Volume editor) Beth Blue Swadener (Volume editor) Gaile S. Cannella (Volume editor)
©2018 Textbook XIV, 362 Pages
Series: Childhood Studies, Volume 7


This second edition of Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education and Care—A Reader: Critical Questions, New Imaginaries & Social Activism is a foundational text that presents contemporary theories, debates and political concerns regarding early education and child care around the globe. Chapter authors are leading contributors in discussions about critical early childhood studies over the past twenty-five years. The volume editors of Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education and Care are long-time scholars in the reconceptualizing early childhood movement. Audiences include students in graduate courses focused on early childhood, early years, and primary education, critical childhood studies, critical curriculum studies and critical theories/perspectives.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Praise for Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education and Care—A Reader
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Dedication
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: Reconceptualist Histories and Possibilities (Marianne N. Bloch / Beth Blue Swadener / Gaile S. Cannella)
  • Section I: Foundational Debates and Continuing Questions
  • Chapter One: Interrogating Reconceptualizing Early Care and Education (RECE)—25 Years Along (Marianne N. Bloch)
  • Chapter Two: Reconceptualizing the Early Childhood Curriculum: An Unaddressed Topic (Shirley A. Kessler)
  • Chapter Three: Anxiety, Theory, and the Challenges of Doing Early Childhood Research (Joseph Tobin)
  • Chapter Four: Through a Queer Lens: Recuperative Longings and the Reconceptualizing Past (Jonathan Silin)
  • Chapter Five: Still Waiting for the Revolution (Michael O’Loughlin)
  • Chapter Six: Social Justice, Risk, and Imaginaries (Susan Grieshaber / Felicity McArdle)
  • Section II: Diverse Imaginaries
  • Chapter Seven: Reconceptualising Evaluation in Early Childhood Education (Gunilla Dahlberg / Peter Moss)
  • Chapter Eight: Posthuman Childhoods: Questions Concerning ‘Quality’ (Marek Tesar / Sonja Arndt)
  • Chapter Nine: Black and Chicana Feminisms: Journeys Toward Spirituality and Reconnection (Michelle Salazar Pèrez / Cinthya M. Saavedra)
  • Chapter Ten: Affective/Effective Reading and Writing Through Real Virtualities in a Digitized Society (Liselott Mariett Olsson / Ebba Theorell)
  • Chapter Eleven: Bring Back the Asylum: Reimagining Inclusion in the Presence of Others (Gail Boldt / Joseph Michael Valente)
  • Chapter Twelve: Radical Theories of Presence in Early Childhood Imaginaries (Chelsea Bailey)
  • Chapter Thirteen: Our Story of Early Childhood Collaboration: Imagining Love and Grace (Denise Proud / Cynthia à Beckett)
  • Chapter Fourteen: Ki te Whai ao, ki te ao Marama: Early Childhood Understandings in Pursuit of Social, Cultural, and Ecological Justice (Cheryl Rau / Jenny Ritchie)
  • Chapter Fifteen: Situated and Entangled Childhoods: Imagining and Materializing Children’s Common World Relations (Affrica Taylor)
  • Chapter Sixteen: Posthumanist Imaginaries for Decolonizing Early Childhood Praxis (Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw / Fikile Nxumalo)
  • Section III: Social Action and Activism(s)
  • Chapter Seventeen: Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education and the (Im)Possibility of Racial Justice (Mariana Souto-Manning / Maisha T. Winn / Nicole McGowan / Jessica Martell)
  • Chapter Eighteen: None for You: Children’s Capabilities and Rights in Profoundly Unequal Times (Valerie Polakow)
  • Chapter Nineteen: The Costs of Putting Quality First: Neoliberalism, (Ine)quality, (Un)affordability, and (In)accessibility? (Mark Nagasawa / Lacey Peters / Beth Blue Swadener)
  • Chapter Twenty: Learning From the Margins: Early Childhood Imaginaries, “Normal Science,” and the Case for a Radical Reconceptualization of Research and Practice (Mathias Urban)
  • Chapter Twenty-One: [Im]possibilities of Reinvention of Palestinian Early Childhood Education (Janette Habashi)
  • Chapter Twenty-Two: Early Childhood Teacher Educator as Public Intellectual (Jeanne Marie Iorio / Will Parnell / Elizabeth P. Quintero / Catherine Hamm)
  • Chapter Twenty-Three: Social Activism: The Risky Business of Early Childhood Educators in Neoliberal Australian Classrooms (Kylie Smith / Sheralyn Campbell)
  • Chapter Twenty-Four: The Global Childhoods Project: Complexities of Learning and Living With a Biliterate and Trilingual Literacy Policy (I-Fang Lee / Nicola Yelland)
  • Chapter Twenty-Five: Critical Qualitative Research and Rethinking Academic Activism in Childhood Studies (Gaile S. Cannella)
  • About the Authors
  • Series Index

← x | xi →


This volume reflects more than twenty-five years of scholarship and dialogue focused on reconceptualizing research, practice, and policy related to early childhood. We acknowledge the role that the Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education (RECE) conferences have played over the past 27 years since the first conference held in 1991. We also would like to acknowledge the many people who have influenced our work in what is now a large global network. For all three of us, readings, critical scholarship, policy discussions, and critical work have informed this volume. As we’ve done our individual and collective work, dialogues and debates with a global network of scholars/teachers/policymakers, and members of different global and local cultural communities have played a very influential role in helping us to continue to ask: Why and why not?

This global network, including those in and out of academic contexts, has provided an environment for challenges. It has also provided each of us a space for sharing our work, questions, and diverse imaginaries. We especially thank all of the contributing authors for raising critical issues and sharing their work and thinking.

We deeply appreciate the support and patience of those who assisted us throughout the book editing process. Additionally, we want to acknowledge the help and long-term support of Peter Bloch, Daniel Swadener and Bert Cannella; this one and others could never have happened without that sharing of interests, and respect for each other’s work. Peter passed away too early in 2015, but he was thrilled to see the first edition published in 2014. This second edition then is also dedicated to our partners.

The editors—Mimi Bloch, Beth Blue Swadener, and Gaile Cannella—have worked together before. However, we had not co-edited a book together before the first edition of this one; now we are happy to be doing the second edition and continuing other work together. It has been an honor and privilege. We met as younger researchers, and now are grandparents. To all those ← xi | xii → doing the hard work as scholar/activists that have helped form the context for our work, and for scholar/activists who are beginning their work, move forward with new ideas, strategies for resistance and act with urgency and hope. We hope this book helps in some small way to illuminate important new issues, questions, and possibilities. We hope it illustrates the continuing need for interrogation of what seems to be “truth,” and the continued need for action at every level.

Finally, we wish to acknowledge the use of a cover photograph by University of Wisconsin-Madison Emeritus Professor of Early Childhood Education, Dr. Gary Glen Price. Dr. Price gave permission for the photograph to be used for the cover of this book, and also received written permission for its use from the adult whose photo was taken when he was a child. Dr. Price was a member of the host committees for three Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education conferences (1991, 1996, and 2005). The cover photo was used at the 2005 Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education conference as a poster, and one of two program cover photos. The title “Rapt child in spiral tunnel” draws on a reconceptualized perspective as it makes us think differently, interrogate the image, the child’s thinking, and our conceptions of what and how diverse childhoods are experienced and portrayed.

← xii | 1 →



Reconceptualist Histories and Possibilities

Marianne N. Bloch, Beth Blue Swadener, and Gaile S. Cannella

We are delighted to introduce the second edition of Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Care & Education—A Reader and hope that this edition brings new focus as well as new questions and debates to our collective discussions of ways to reconceptualize theory, research, policy, and pedagogical practices in early childhood education and care (ECEC). Within the 25 chapters, authors focus on a diverse set of current issues, new and diverse imaginaries, and social action strategies for change in the classroom, at the local, national, and global levels. Further, ways to re-envision goals and philosophies that would guide collective and individual activism are discussed. Throughout the reader, authors intermingle discussions of theory, research, pedagogical programs and practices, as well as global to local policy analysis.

The first edition of this book was published in 2014 to mark and review twenty years of reconceptualist “work” and dialogue related to early education and child care that took place in the spaces of conferences, other meetings, joint publications, or local to global collective actions. The book focuses largely, but not exclusively, on work done by those who associate with the “Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education” conferences and, what some call the Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education “movement.” In the second edition of the book, we again focus on the now over 25 years of reconceptualizing work, but add that many contributions are from those people who have added considerably to discussions about ECEC drawing from a diverse set of critical theoretical perspectives, but who are not directly associated with the reconceptualizing early childhood education conferences. Thus, in the second edition, we invite readers to look at the issues raised by contributors even more broadly as direct challenges to early education policies, practices, and research that purports to be “best” in telling “truth” about children, families, teachers and programs, as well as communities. ← 1 | 2 →

The first edition was published shortly after the 20th Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education conference. Since that time, the neoliberal capitalist global condition has expanded, further narrowing the dominant approach to childhood in ways that privilege and support measurement, judging others, profiteering and efficiency. Yet, even within this saturated, narrowed context, there have been counter actions in both academia and on the ground. In the second edition, authors re-examine continuing foundational questions, these new concerns, possible approaches and directions, and ways in which, at different levels and locales, the critical and reconceptualist work in ECEC, has facilitated/can facilitate social action. Further, the text of the second edition draws on several new contributions to add to the diversity of our knowledge base, and to increase our abilities to hone in on critical research, pedagogical, policy, and activist issues in early education and child care—across the globe.

The principle purpose of the volume is to demonstrate new directions for understanding and imagining childhoods as well as rethinking ECEC. Additionally, ways in which scholars in transdisciplinary fields are engaging in action and activism is considered of major importance. Pedagogical methods and policy directly and indirectly affecting access, affordability, and the enactment of ECEC as it impacts very young children, families, teachers, and caregivers in different contexts and around the globe are addressed. New authors for the second edition, as with the first, were asked to write chapters because the volume editors (in collaborative discussions) felt each had distinctly new and innovative ways to add to the dialogue and our “imaginaries.” While many authors contributed to the reader, no volume could include the many others whose work, knowledges, and voices might have been here. Yet, the reader may find that these influential others are actually present as ideas are discussed, in chapter content, and in references.

Among those who were unable to contribute, we again want to acknowledge a few colleagues whose contributions were enormous and significant in areas of ECEC policy, critical methodological and ethnographic studies, cross-national knowledge, and new theoretical ways of thinking about children, families, and policy. While Liane Mozere wrote a chapter for the first edition (Mozere, 2014), the book, sadly, was published after she died in October, 2013. She, along with colleagues Sally Lubeck, Leslie Williams, Jeanette Rhedding-Jones, and Judith Duncan, all participated actively in the Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education conferences (hosting the conferences, as well as serving as Program Chairs), and their germinal work has been important in so many ways through dialogues, publications, critical policy analysis, and mentorship of the next generation of scholars. In this volume, we celebrate their powerful legacies as well as the work of many critical others; we miss them, and continue to value their wisdom, scholarship, laughter, and friendship.

Reconceptualist Critical Perspectives and the Field of Early Childhood Education/Care (ECED): A Brief History

The Introduction of Critical Theory, Research, Policy, and Pedagogy

From the late 1970s into the mid-1980s, critically-oriented psychologists, sociologists, and cultural anthropologists most interested in early education and child care were asking questions about the narrow perspectives of the dominant empirical research in child development/ECEC. ← 2 | 3 → Critically oriented research in the U.S, and around the globe challenged these narrow universalist views. At the same time, others were involved in research that allowed us to recognize the value of qualitative/ethnographic research, and the diversity of childhood cultural contexts in which children lived and grew (e.g., Rogoff, 2003; Tobin, Wu, & Davidson, 1989; Whiting & Whiting, 1975). Some were beginning to form a group examining the sociology of childhood (e.g., James, Jenks, & Prout, 1998; Jenks, 1982). While critical psychology (Burman, 1994) and anthropological studies of childhood helped illuminate the narrow view that “child development” promulgated as universal “truth” drawn from western contexts, research challenging the representation of the “other” also came to the forefront (e.g., Marcus & Fischer, 1986). While the 1970s and 1980s provided a foundation for many critiques of the role of science in determining what is legitimated as “truth,” the role of power relations (political/economic/social) in development and education (e.g., Apple, 1978; David, 1980; Pinar, 1975; Popkewitz, 1987, 1991) and the politics of cultural/racial/gendered identities, inclusions and exclusions, also became critically important in discussions (e.g., Ellsworth, 1989; Sleeter & Grant, 1987) and in political and educational research and actions.

In the U.S. especially, theory, research, policy, and curriculum were organized around positivist methods and, as Kessler and Swadener suggested, most research on children and childhoods was arrived at through quantitative studies using predetermined, and so called reliable and valid measurements of largely western, European or U.S. samples of children (Bloch, 1992; Kessler & Swadener, 1992a; Swadener & Kessler, 1991). This positivist research concerning the “truth” about children was often generalized from overly narrow samples and certainly without consideration for diversity. In early research in the U.S. by Bloch (1987), Hatch (1995), Lubeck (1985), Polakow-Suransky (1982), Tobin et al. (1989), Silin (1987), Ayers (1989), and many others, alternative methodologies, often qualitative and interpretive, as well as a variety of critical theories were used. These diverse contributions examined a variety of issues related to ECEC policy (e.g., Bloch, 1987; Lubeck, 1985; Polakow-Suransky, 1982), pedagogy and curriculum (Ayers, 1989; Kessler & Swadener, 1992a, 1992; Silin, 1987), and the ways in which dominant modes of inquiry and thought limited the types of questions that might be asked or the “evidence” found (Bloch, 1992; Hatch, 1995; Mallory & New, 1994; Swadener & Lubeck, 1995). The work illustrated the importance of new ways of doing research, the contributions of different theoretical frameworks, and the questions and practices in need of interrogation, or illumination. As many of these issues have remained “thorny” and complex over the past twenty-five years or longer, some are further represented throughout this volume.

The Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education (RECE) Group

In 1991, the first Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education (RECE) conference was held; at the time of the completion of this second edition, the twenty-fifth conference was just held in Toronto, Canada (October, 2017). These conferences were/are organized by some of the critical early childhood educators concerned with the complexities of power, culture/race/gender, inclusion, and exclusion. Over the years, centered on reconceptualizing early education and child care, conferences have been held in Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Norway, Palestine, Kenya, Canada, and the United States. Collectively and individually, those attending, and/or publishing their work have grappled with persistent questions and issues, including the following: What were foundational arguments and debates—and to what extent ← 3 | 4 → do they remain issues, and why? What are new imaginaries in our collective teaching, pedagogies, political action and research now? In what ways were our initial ideas of “reform and change” realized, and in which ways “are we still waiting for the revolution?” Have we tried to engage in different actions/activisms over the years—with what success? In which ways have we renarrativized or deterritorialized notions of developmental psychology or child development as a foundational way to construct childhood, children, and curriculum? But why has there been little apparent shift in reasoning, action, policy, or recommended “best practices” in curriculum?

Foundational Writings and Issues

Along with those already discussed, this volume focuses on initial critiques and debates that provided a foundation for the diverse critiques that emerged as part of rethinking and reconceptualist writings from the late 1970s onward in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and in the U.S. While some ideas drew from critical theories of the German Frankfurt School, others drew from western continental philosophers’ deconstructions of discursive language and practices and decolonizing/postcolonial theories, research, and indigenous knowledges. Ideas that drew from foundational and post-foundational, mixed methods/qualitative and post-qualitative methodologies, humanist/post-humanist theories and research methodologies are incorporated in chapters throughout the reader. Many also, as in the past, draw from diverse disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives beyond, yet including, critical psychology and developmental studies, sociology of childhood(s), new materialism, political-economic, historical, or anthropology, cultural studies, philosophy, visual/literary/performative arts, and diverse critical race, class, and feminist/gender studies perspectives.

Among many early critical childhood researchers, we highlight the early and influential work of Miriam David (1980), Valerie Walkerdine (1984), Erica Burman (1994), and Bronwyn Davies (1982, 1989), all of whom have published influential volumes critiquing childhood, children, child care and pedagogy through a variety of critical, post-structural, and feminist theoretical lenses. Another author, whose work is published in this volume, Valerie Polakow-Suransky (1982), in The Erosion of Childhood, provided early U.S.-based critiques of the dominance of child development as a foundation of truth about childhoods, using phenomenological and existential theory and research to shed light on “other” people’s children (Polakow, 1993). Jonathan Silin’s (1995) Sex, Death, and the Education of Children: Our Passion for Ignorance in the Age of AIDS, Gaile Cannella’s (1997) Deconstructing Early Childhood Education: Social Justice and Revolution, and Dahlberg, Moss, and Pence’s (1999), Beyond Quality: Early Education and Child Care in Post-Modernity were then and remain influential in the rethinking or reconceptualizing of early childhood education, child care “quality,” and the concepts of development, innocence, normalization, and childhood itself.

A variety of conference venues, including meetings of the Council on Anthropology of Education, the Bergamo Conference in the U.S. focused on curriculum theory, RECE from 1991 onward, and the Critical Perspectives in Early Childhood Education Special Interest Group at the American Education Research Association (that was begun in 1999 by several of the reconceptualist early childhood scholars) were influential. The University of Melbourne Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood Education conference started by Glenda MacNaughton and colleagues has also served a critical role. In France, Gilles Brougere, Michel Vandenbroeck and others have lead a French-language Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education conference. ← 4 | 5 → In addition, the Social Justice in Early Education conference and work by a large group of activist/scholars in Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere have modeled new ways to bridge the scholar/public divide with significant impact on debates and policies in child care and early education. The US-based International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry has also included a variety of critical qualitative policy-oriented sessions on early childhood education over the past decade (for example, see Cannella & Wolff, 2014).

In a different way, a variety of publication opportunities allowed the discussions to grow; these included several books published in Teachers College Press’s Early Education series and the Peter Lang series focused on Rethinking Childhood and now named Childhood Studies (in which this book is published), as well as the two Routledge Press Series, Contesting Early Childhood and Changing Images of Early Childhood, as well as the Palgrave-MacMillan series, Critical Cultural Studies of Childhood. These new opportunities provided important openings for advancing discussions and the formation of a global network of scholars and scholarship.

In contrast, there have been few refereed journals over these years with a focus on critical theoretical perspectives in ECEC or childhood studies. But, new publications are emerging. The on-line journal Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood or CIEC, as well as several newer journals (e.g. Global Childhoods, the now RECE-affiliated International Journal of Critical Childhood Policy Studies) are expanding possibilities for the growing discussions and publication of open-access, peer-reviewed, theoretical arguments and research. Nonetheless, the continuing scarcity of refereed journal possibilities has been an ongoing issue, and may reflect the lack of resources tied to time and publication in the field. This was one of the arguments and one of the actions taken in 2015 for RECE to take over the on-line International Critical Childhood Policy Studies Journal.

The Personal and the Political

For many of us, much of our work is personal, professional, and political, as we struggle with our continued concerns regarding those who are younger. Initially, the reconceptualist work was focused on critiquing what is put forward as “normal;” the initial topics for activism have varied over time, and by context. Certainly, we have found this work to be useful, transformative, and at times risky, dangerous, as well as marginalized by dominant or mainstream ideas and conceptions of practice and policy. But the critiques that began in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s also require continuing reflection and examination: what were (and are) the aims, successes, barriers, and contributions of this work? It is also important to ask—what, currently, are the macro-politics and micro-politics of our work, especially within the frameworks of global hypercapitalism, neoliberal economic policies, and a massive return to racialized, classed, and gendered wars against women, children, and families? We look at macro politics as well as what the minor politics of our writing, actions, policies, and daily work are (Dahlberg & Moss, 2005) How do, or could, our strategic alliances and actions work in different ways toward various notions of inclusion, social justice, greater equity, redistributive economics and social politics for young children, their families, and teachers/caregivers? In which directions might specific strategic actions move us further in fighting, resisting, or renarrativizing how truth is constructed, accepted, and influential in relation to children, families, and “good education and care?”

As we continue to confront assumptions about the standardized child, childhood, curriculum, teacher, and parent, what are our current actions? As we speak about inequities for early ← 5 | 6 → childhood educators’ wages and working conditions, or increasing global wealth gap, what are our current actions? When we do research that reinforces our knowledge of the savage distributions (Kozol, 1991; Polakow, 1993) of access to health care and child care, what are our current actions? Here, we reinforce the importance of the space of critical reflection and activism within an increasingly punitive political and economic global context that narrows possibilities, especially for poor children and their families around the world.

As individuals, but also as a collective, we examine ethical perspectives that we might envision—including, at the least, an ethics and responsibility toward children’s care/education, not only in the richer, western nations and the privileged communities within them, but globally and locally. What are our continuing responsibilities? Where have we excluded while intending to include, whether topic, political movement, or pedagogical/curricular moment? Currently as we face continuing assaults from global capitalism, and renewed efforts to standardize bad practices in the name of quality, what might be our responses or ways of acting together over the next year, five years, or twenty? What are activities or endeavors that we as individuals or within groups might consider as we move toward this possible “future?”

Have there been stories that have been possible to tell, that otherwise might have been omitted or excluded from collective knowledge? How have truth, knowledge, and power relations been affected—if at all? Have the individual and collective voices, ideas, and writings been heard; are we talking and writing to a broader audience or to ever narrowing discursively confined spaces? Where are the openings, new lines of flight? Where is the serpent lurking, closing down barely envisioned spaces or possibilities (Dahlberg & Bloch, 2006)?

In this collection, we explore how different narratives have been allowed to continue and new narratives have emerged that constrain as well as open possibilities for children/families/education and children’s care. Many of the chapter contributors discuss how our actions and/or new alliances might be used in new ways toward previously unthought ways of thinking and action? Again, can we speak truth to power in alternative ways as a collective voice, or through individual and collective contingent social actions (see Cannella, Perez, & Lee, 2016; Swadener, Lundy, Habashi, & Blanchet-Cohen, 2013). While the second edition continues to take a nonlinear approach for looking backward and forward—with attention to key questions and debates within the Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education “movement” and within and across different groups that examine ECEC, it also continues to use diverse frames to do so in order to provoke new critiques, actions, visions, and possibilities.

Through studies of “standards” and universal views of care that are far from universally accessible, from recognizing the continuing effect of neoliberal and cultural politics on and in the education of children, by acknowledging racism and violence and the colonization of minds, methods, and voices, we hope to continue confronting political, economic, and educational injustices. The contributors collectively highlight research, policy, and pedagogical challenges and directions that point to crucial areas of work—within the context of continuing global neoliberal regimes, societies of “control” and in an era of policing—but work that would generate possibilities and hope.

Further, in this volume, we represent a “post-reconceptualist” notion of a diversity of theories/methodologies—as well as diverse imaginaries for new pedagogical spaces, social justice action and activisms, peace, and an ethics of hope. We also acknowledge the privileges that many of us take for granted and recognize that the majority of others, particularly young children around the globe, engage in a diversity of educational and care contexts, and that far too many, ← 6 | 7 → within economically rich as well as poor countries, lack essential resources. Finally, many of the chapter contributors challenge us to engage with a sense of a planetary kindness and concern for all, whether human or more-than-human, an ethics of care for the “other,” and a sense of moving beyond human privilege in our practices to address a transspecies/more-than-human/environmental justice for all.

We pose the following questions as an impetus for action:

1. Why are developmental theory and quantitative/positivist research still dominant and dominating notions of truth in early childhood research, policy, pedagogy, curriculum, and theory? If not developmental theory and research, what other ways of thinking and acting can we envision or imagine? Why are we always compelled to have answers?

2. Are there individual/collective actions or activisms in different local, regional, and global locations that represent new possibilities, new ways to re-territorialize, that are outside what is taken as natural or normal?

3. How has reconceptualist work created new dialogues and ways to think about subjectivities, identities, and multiplicities?

4. What new approaches to theory, research, and methodology have been generated, and what new challenges are raised?

5. How is critical work regarding the body of the child reflected in our research and actions (docile, bodies without organs, performing or embodying diverse situated identities, multiplicity of subjectivities)?

6. Where are children in our discourses (is research on or about them, and with them?)

7. How do diverse theoretical and methodological frameworks add to our individual and collective intellectual work? In what ways have we also moved into a post-reconceptualist (Malewski, 2010) space, in which it is necessary to follow:
ethical commitments (to) the range of possibilities…That there be spaces for traditionalists, empiricists, and developmentalist discourses regardless of the extent to which such ideas need to be challenged, but that such work be displaced so as to break up sedimentary conjunctions, epistemological dominance, to open spaces where a thousand theories and stories are made and unmade, where alternative feasible readings proliferate. (Malewski, 2010, xiii)

8. Even as we also acknowledge the human impact on the more-than-human world, how do we avoid losing our focus on young children, their lives, care and education? Critical policy and critical advocacy remain central to the challenges we still face. So we ask, in what ways do our policies and practices still focus on pedagogies of inclusion/exclusion? How do the politics of accessibility/disabilities, minority/majority voices/spaces/geographies frame our actions and practices?

9. In what ways have our scholarship and actions helped to resolve critical curricular and policy issues related to (early) childhood, given globalizing capitalist patriarchy and neoliberal narrowing of possibilities? Which new actions are critical as we move toward unpredictable complex “futures?”

10. What are different and diverse imaginaries concerning children and childhood as pleasure and desire are considered? How has popular media, technology, and global and local practices surrounding children “in danger” been addressed, analyzed, or ← 7 | 8 → acknowledged in our actions? In which ways does violence in media, and violent actions in education, affect young children? Do we need different ways to focus our critique, research, action and activism?

11. More generally, with early childhood education and child care gaining even greater attention in global policy, how might we imagine new ways to do research, to write, to envision curriculum, or critical actions and activisms?

12. Are we/how are we making life better when young human beings are living with war, abuse, hunger, disaster, and death? What are ways that reconceptualist can address these issues?

13. How do oppression, injustice and violence imposed on younger human beings, people of color, and women interact with environmental injustice and human privilege imposed over the nonhuman other to create greater injustice for all? How can we act in relation to increased justice broadly? What does this action mean for reconceptualizing early education and care?


XIV, 362
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2018 (May)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2018. XIV, 362 pp., 15 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Marianne N. Bloch (Volume editor) Beth Blue Swadener (Volume editor) Gaile S. Cannella (Volume editor)

Marianne N. Bloch is Professor Emerita in the Departments of Curriculum and Instruction and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Beth Blue Swadener is Professor and Associate Director of the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University-Tempe. Gaile S. Cannella is an independent scholar, former professor and endowed chair and series editor for Childhood Studies, as well as Post-Anthropocentric Inquiry at Peter Lang. All are founding members of the International Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education group and are former early childhood classroom teachers, scholars who have conducted research that is published in multiple books and refereed journals and early years policy activists.


Title: Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education and Care—A Reader