Posthumanism and Education, Academic seminar

Posthumanism and Education I: What does it mean being a subject in the world?

Wednesday 31. January 
Campus Kronstad, room F204, Time 12.30

Karin Murris Reconfiguring educational relationality in education: a response to Gert Biesta

In the first part of presentation, I discuss student, teacher-centred and 'post-postmodern' educational relationality and use Karen Barad's posthuman methodology of diffraction to produce an intra-active relationality by reading three familiar figurations through one another: the midwife, the stingray, and the pregnant body. The new educational theory and practice that is produced is the 'superposition' of the pregnant stingray – a reconfiguration of the educator that disrupts power producing binaries, such as teacher/learner, adult/child, individual/society. The reconfiguration of the pregnant stingray makes us think differently about difference, the knowing subject (as in/determinate and unbounded), and creates a more egalitarian intra-relationality 'between' learner and educator through the shift in subjectivity.
By paying close attention to the self/world relationality implied in what philosopher of education Gert Biesta proposes, I show how critical posthumanism produces a more radical ontological shift ('I' as part of the world) with profound implications for teaching, learning and knowledge.

In the second part of my presentation I will share fresh examples of this shift in relationality from my own South African university classroom. I will show the impact of some of my 2017 teaching on students' thinking about the subhuman (child) and the more-than-human, and I hope to offer an imaginary of how universities can prepare student teachers differently - urgently needed for a 'justice-to-come' in the Anthropocene.

Time 14.30 
Tobias Werler Posthumanism: Bildung at its end? A Response to Karin Murris

Thursday 1. February
Campus Kronstad, room F234, Time 12.30

Karin Murris Posthumanism and education II: What potentiality for Posthumanism in Norwegian educational debate?

Epistemic injustice and the postdevelopmental child
This paper explores how three well known conceptual frameworks view child development and how they assume particular figurations of the child in the context of the South African National Curriculum Framework for Children from Birth to Four (NCF)(2015). This new curriculum is based on a children's rights framework. The capability approach offers important insights for children's rights advocates, but, like psycho-social theories of child development, it assumes a 'becoming view of child', which poses a serious threat to children's right to participation. They also share the exclusive focus only on human development.

After explaining critical posthumanism, I queer humanist understandings of child development and reconfigure subjectivity through a radical philosophical decentring of the human. The relevance of this shift for post developmental child is threaded throughout the paper in the context of epistemic injustice. The reconfiguration of (child)subjectivity moves theory and practice from a focus on assessing the capabilities of individual children in socio-cultural contexts to the tracing of material and discursive entanglements (Barad, 2017) that render children capable (Haraway, 2016). This onto epistemic shift leads to the conclusion that any curriculum needs to express a multispecies relationality and an ethics of care for the human as well as the nonhuman, which is necessary for transspecies and intra-generational socio-material justice.

Time 13.30 
Camilla Eline Andersen Posthumanisms and new materialisms in Norwegian ECE research: What is happening and what is the debate?

Over the last years, we have seen an increase in research within a Norwegian early childhood education landscape that work with posthumanist and/or new materialist theories (e.g. Andersen, 2015b; Andersen & Otterstad, 2014; Otterstad & Nordbrønd, 2015; Otterstad & Rossholt, 2014; Reinertsen, 2016; Rossholt, 2012; Sandvik, 2013). These projects are not only interested in describing or pinning down aspects of child and childhood, but rather in what else or what more child, preschool teacher, participation, race, body, critique, social justice, observation and research might be. Moreover, they want to widen a research field that has been dominated by phenomenological approaches. In addition, master's students within early childhood education at different university colleges take up these theories. In this presentation, I give a brief overview of and some in depth examples from writings within the Norwegian early childhood education landscape that put to work posthumanist and/or new materialist theories. This includes knowledge from my own research on professionalism and race (Andersen, 2015b, 2016) and my own writing on methodologies and affirmative critique (Andersen, 2015a, 2017, forthcoming; Andersen & Otterstad, 2014). I also present a reading of the ongoing public debate on posthumanist educational research in Norway, and weave this with recent international explorations of post-qualitative inquiry.

Time 14.30 
Kjell Oppedal What relevance can new materialism have for exploring processes of becoming in the classroom? Some reflections.
The presentation is given in Norwegian.

What potential has the concepts affect, assembly and becoming of Deleuze and Guattari for understanding classroom events? A perspective on the classroom as a place where forces are distributed between material as well as social actors can put the spotlight on the affective space and the reaction that occurs when all of the room's actors meet and collide. The use of the concept of affect makes it possible to look into the classroom's expressive and vitalistic qualities rather than studying the extent to which the classroom can be said to be functional, and how the aesthetics work. The term assembly can make an important contribution to understanding the complexity of classroom, i.e., how a situational effect between elements, actions or competences in the room can be folded in time and space. Assemblage is a term that captures the hybrid joints that the classroom's diversity allows. Attention is emergent and is determined by how the classroom's many components influence and develop in relation to each other. Considering the classroom as a vitalist field of power gives the opportunity to seize the room's processes of becoming. The concepts of affect and assembly can shed light on the floating classroom and the inherent possibilities of becoming that are found by virtue of space complexity and porous contexts. Although many factors influence the room and the processes that make it, the individual's actions and reactions will put the room's forces in motion. Thus, the room will be affected by the influence of different actors, be it human as well as non-human.


See program at HVL`s calender here

Department of Pedagogy, Religion and Social Studies

Professor Karin Murris


Professor Karin Murris

Karin Murris is Full Professor of Pedagogy and Philosophy at the School of Education at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Grounded in philosophy as an academic discipline, as a teacher educator her main research interests are in posthuman intra-active pedagogies such as Philosophy with children and Reggio Emilia, school ethics and postqualitative research methods. She is Principal Investigator of the Decolonising Early Childhood Discourses: Critical Posthumanism in Higher Education research project funded by the South African National Research Foundation (NRF). Her email address is Her articles can be downloaded from

Karin was president-elect of the International Council of Philosophical Inquiry with Children (ICPIC) 2015-2017, founding member of SAPERE (UK), originator of the Southern Africa Philosophy for Children network (Mindboggles) and involved in the African Reggio Emilia Association (AREA). Her book publications include: Teaching Philosophy with Picture Books (1992), The Posthuman Child: Educational Transformation through Philosophy with Picturebooks (2016), and (with Joanna Haynes) Storywise: Thinking through Stories (2002) and Picturebooks, Pedagogy and Philosophy (2012). She is also co-editor of the Routledge International Handbook of Philosophy for Children (2017).



Professor Tobias Werler

Tobias Werler is Professor of Education at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences Bergen. His scientific production in recent years is characterized by empirical and theoretical (but not least comparative) projects that are associated with Theory of Bildung, Didaktik, Policies of Education and Teacher Professionalization. He has conducted several Nordic Council of Minister-funded research projects in teacher education. He is a member of the government appointed follow-up research panel on the implementation of the teacher education reform. 

Camilla Eline Andersen

Camilla Eline Andersen is Associate Professor at the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences. Here she teaches in various courses at all levels. She received her Ph.D. from Department of Child and Youth Studies at Stockholm University, Sweden. Amongst her current research interests are diversity and difference in early childhood, critical early childhood pedagogy and the performance of critical qualitative research, philosophy as methodology, feminist thinking in ECE. Her research and publications draw mainly on feminist- and critical theories and methodologies. In her later writings, she has particularly worked with professionalism and race in early childhood from Deleuzian and feminist new materialist perspectives. The book chapter “Ungrounding earth: An ontological take on professionalism and race in early childhood education and care” (2016) in Becoming Earth: A Post Human turn in educational discourse collapsing Nature Culture Divides (Ed. A.B. Reinertsen) is one example.


Kjell Oppedal

Kjell Oppedal er høyskolelektor ved NLA Høyskolen, og underviser i ulke emner på alle nivå. Han er opptatt av endring og kontinuitet i en postmodernistisk tid sett i forhold til identitet og selvforståelse. Med utgangspunkt i et kulturpsykologisk meningsunivers er hans forskningsfokus særlig rettet mot hvordan individet tar i bruk kulturelle ressurser i iscenesettelse av selvet.