Posthuman Ethics in the anthropocene: Researching alongside children and non-humans in the early-years
By Hannah Hogarth
PhD Student, Department of Education, University of Bath
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This poster advances a relational approach to research ethics that fundamentally shifts how we think about and enact educational research, where children and non-humans are placed alongside the researcher. Ethical considerations currently being explored in a doctoral study focusing on play and learning in an early childhood educational setting are highlighted.
The ‘Anthropocene’ – a term used to describe the human caused environmental crises we are living in - demands that we address damaging human-centred approaches in education. This poster suggests more relational and ecological ways of thinking, acting and researching. This relational approach uses posthuman philosophies that argue that ethics is intertwined with knowing and being – an ‘ethico-onto-epistemology’ (Barad, 2007). Procedural ethics outlined during the ethical approval stage are just the start of the process: ethical considerations are entangled throughout. Ethics is situational, emergent and complex; ethical dilemmas and decisions will be ongoing. The concept of ‘doing little justices’ (Rousell, 2020) acknowledges that the mundane and everyday are significant; every enactment, decision and ‘cut’ (inclusion/ exclusion) will matter. By identifying as relational, we acknowledge that we are always emerging in relation to those we encounter and need to find ways to attend to the more-than-humans and those marginalised during the research process. This requires us to be open to the not-yet-known and to be innovative, creative and flexible in our research, including planning, creating, analysing and writing. Through engaging with these ethical considerations, it is possible to inspire research and practice that is more ethical and just: to children, humans, animals, plants and our planet.