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Deconstructing Early Childhood Education

Social Justice and Revolution

Gaile S. Cannella

From a critical perspective, some early childhood educators have proposed that the knowledge base used to ground the field actually serves to support the status quo, reinforces prejudices and stereotypes, and ignores the real lives of children. The purpose of this book is to deconstruct early childhood education, identifying and evaluating the themes and forms of discourse that have dominated the field, leading to the construction of specific theories and forms of practice that privilege particular groups of children and adults and oppress others. An alternative avenue for early childhood education is posited that focuses on social justice and human agency.
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Edited by Gaile S. Cannella

In recent years, critical researchers, educators, and activists have become aware of the problems and limitations that have resulted by placing the ‘human’ at the center of all societal conceptualizations, concerns, and practices. Across fields, ranging from medical research laboratory practices - to the construction of the humanities –  to the social sciences – to environmental studies (just to name a few), this anthropocentric focus is being called to question.

The goal of this book series is to provide scholars and readers with critical opportunities to contest this anthropocentrism, (1) by creating a textual field of Post-Anthropocentric Inquiry that generates critical spaces for (re)thinking philosophies, knowledges, and ways of being/living and performing, as well as methodologies and inquiries, that decenter the human, (2) while at the same time attempting always/already to actively transform inequities and injustices performed by human privilege on nonhuman others, traditionally disqualified human others, and the natural world more broadly. This Post-Anthropocentric Inquiry can represent difference and the multiple, while at the same time exploring and welcoming notions of indistinction.  Work that further develops and expands current notions of becoming (animal, earth), new feminist materialisms, critical posthuman sensibilities, hybrid existences (past and present) are example locations from which an intersectional, non-anthropocentric politics may emerge.  Additionally, post-anthropocentric inquiry and activism will always include the unthought, not-yet-considered modes of living, thinking, research while critically acknowledging that alternatives can create new dualisms, new forms of human privilege, and are not always liberatory for those labeled not human or for those human beings who have traditionally been marginalized.

Further, post-anthropocentric scholarship acknowledges, and attempts to (1) transform, the current post-anthropocentric predicament that facilitates neoliberal capitalism as all forms of life, matter, and relations have been/are constructed to serve market economies, and (2) examine the unprecedented human/nonhuman interaction with the increasingly intrusive and intimate technological order.  Post-anthropocentric inquiry is necessary as related to these contemporary aggressive, and all-encompassing post-human conditions.

Single or multiple authored manuscripts are encouraged that facilitate the development of Post-Anthropocentric Inquiry by addressing one issue, multiple issues, research purposes, methodologies, and/or forms of activism. Over a wide range of volumes that cross disciplines, the series will address broad issues, as mentioned above, and questions like the following: What is post-anthropocentric inquiry?  What is made possible, enabled by post-anthropocentric approaches and research methodologies?  How is post-anthropocentric research conducted without (re)privileging the human?  How does the work in fields that would decenter the human, like critical animal studies, intersect with professional content and practices in fields like education or medicine? How can coalitions be formed (and actions taken) that decenter the human and increase possibilities for all forms of justice, while countering capitalist and technological orders that devalue all forms of life?

Interested authors should contact Gaile S. Cannella,

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Edited by Gaile S. Cannella

"For many years, the field of Childhood Studies has crossed disciplinary boundaries that include, but are not limited to, anthropology, art, education, history, humanities, and sociology by addressing diverse histories, cultures, forms of representation, and conceptualizations of «childhood». The publications in the Rethinking Childhood Series have supported this work by challenging the universalization of childhood and introducing reconceptualized, critical spaces from which increased social justice and possibilities are generated for those who are younger.

This newly named Childhood Studies Series in the global 21st century is created to continue this focus on social justice for those who are younger, but also to broaden and further explore conceptualizations of privilege, justice, possibility, responsibility and activism. Authors are encouraged to consider «childhood» from within a context that would decenter human privilege and acknowledge environmental justice and the more-than-human Other, while continuing to research, act upon, and transform beliefs, public policy, societal institutions, and possibilities for ways of living/being in the world for all of us. Boundary crossings are of greater importance than ever as we live unprecedented technological change, violence against living beings that are not labeled human (through experimentation, industrialization, and medicine), plundering of the earth, and gaps between the privileged and the marginalized (whether rich/poor, human/nonhuman). Along with continued concerns related to social justice, equity, poverty, and diversity, some authors in the Childhood Studies Series will choose to think about, and ask questions like: What does it mean to be a younger human being within such a world? What are the values, education, and forms of care provided within this context; and can/how should these dispositions and practices be transformed? Can childhood studies, and the diverse forms of representation and practice associated with it, conceptualize and practice a more just world broadly, while avoiding utopian determinisms and continuing to remain critical and multiple? "
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Edited by Gaile S. Cannella

Researchers in a range of fields have acknowledged that childhood is a construct emerging from modernist perspectives that have not always benefited those who are younger. The purposes of the Rethinking Childhood Series are to provide critical locations for scholarship that challenges the universalization of childhood and introduces new, reconceptualized, and critical spaces from which opportunities and possibilities are generated for those who are younger. Diverse histories and cultures are considered of major importance, as well as issues of critical social justice.

Authored and edited volumes are invited. We are particularly interested in manuscripts that provide insight into the contemporary neoliberal condition experienced by those who are labeled "child," as well as volumes that illustrate life and educational experiences that challenge that condition. Rethinking childhood work related to critical education and care, childhood public policy, family and community voice, and critical social activism is encouraged.
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Childhood Studies, Global Perspectives, and Education


Gaile S. Cannella and Joe L. Kincheloe

Kidworld contributes to an emerging field of childhood studies that challenges disciplinary boundaries, in such fields as early childhood education and developmental psychology, which are limited in their beliefs and relationships with younger human beings. One role of childhood studies is to recognize the historical-, political-, and even power-oriented contexts that construct childhood, giving voice to issues that have been previously ignored and disqualified. The authors of Kidworld employ their own diverse, global perspectives to reveal the existence of and problems with globalization and marketing of the universal, modernist child. Such questions as the following are addressed: How are market-driven motives influencing the lives of (poor) children? How does the political climate of a nation affect children’s cultural, linguistic, and educational rights? Can more just representation for children be accomplished?
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A Handbook

Gaile S. Cannella and Lourdes Diaz Soto

For the past 20 years, a range of scholars, educators, and cultural workers have examined dominant discourses of «childhood» using critical, feminist, and other postmodern perspectives. Located in a variety of disciplines, these poststructural, deconstructive, and even postcolonial critiques have challenged everything from notions of the universal child, to adult/child dualisms, to deterministic developmental theory. The purpose of this volume is to acknowledge the profound contributions of that large body of literature, while demonstrating the ways that critical analyses can be used to generate avenues/actions that increase possibilities for social justice for those who are younger while, at the same time, avoiding determinism. In this time of globalization, hyper-capitalism, and discourses that would control and disqualify through constructions like accountability, we believe that projects such as this are of utmost importance.
The volume is divided into four major sections to reflect the multiplicity of human voices and perspectives (section I), contemporary circumstances and dominant discourses within which we all attempt to function (sections II and III), and the generation of new possibilities for constructing relationships together (section IV). Finally, a voice from the «heart» within a «reconceptualist» social science agenda for early childhood studies is presented.
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Shirley R. Steinberg and Gaile S. Cannella

This book has received the AESA (American Educational Studies Association) Critics Choice Award 2012.
This volume of transformed research utilizes an activist approach to examine the notion that nothing is apolitical. Research projects themselves are critically examined for power orientations, even as they are used to address curricular problems and educational or societal issues. Philosophical perspectives that have facilitated an understanding of issues of power are used to conceptualize research problems as well as determine methodologies. These life-experience perspectives include, but are not limited to, postcolonial and subaltern studies, feminisms, poststructuralism, cultural studies, and critical race theory. The book also examines the use of language, discourse practices, and power relations that prevent more socially just transformations. The Critical Qualitative Research Reader is an invaluable text for undergraduate and graduate classrooms as well as an important volume for researchers.
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Critical Examinations of Quality in Early Education and Care

Regulation, Disqualification, and Erasure


Gaile S. Cannella, Michelle Salazar Pérez and I-Fang Lee

Quality rating systems discourses and practices are increasingly dominating early childhood care and education around the globe. These rating systems are constructed with the assumption that universally appropriate environments can be constructed for all those who are younger. This deterministic, ratings, and measurement oriented perspective is consistent with neoliberal discourses that privilege competition, accountability, consumer materialism, and notions such as human capital; this contemporary neoliberal condition does not support concern for the common good, democracy, equity, justice, or diversity (unless the support can facilitate new forms of capitalist gains). Ultimately, this is not a positive situation for those who are younger. The chapters in this book have two goals: (1) to provide the reader with an opportunity to engage with some of the specific problems that result from putting forward ‘quality’ as a dominant construct, and (2) to generate conversations and locations from diverse knowledges and multiple ways of being that could lead to the rethinking of quality, understandings of quality as a narrowing construct/practice, and/or going beyond (and outside of) notions of quality.
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Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Care and Education

Critical Questions, New Imaginaries and Social Activism: A Reader


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

Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Care and Education is a foundational text, which presents contemporary theories and debates about early education and child care in many nations. The authors selected are leading contributors in discussions about critical early childhood studies over the past twenty years; the editors are long-time scholars in the reconceptualizing early childhood movement. Audiences include students in graduate courses focused on early childhood and primary education, critical cultural studies of childhood, critical curriculum studies and critical theories that have been contested and debated and drawn from over the course of two decades.
The book is filled with recent scholarship by leading authors in the reconceptualization and rethinking of childhood studies and early childhood fields, who discuss foundational debates, new imaginaries in theory and practice and activist scholarship. A must-read for graduate students and professionals interested in beginning or continuing critical interrogations of current early childhood policy and reforms globally.