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Reconsidering Children's Encounters With Nature and Place Using Posthumanism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 January 2016

Karen Malone*
Centre for Educational Research, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South WalesAustralia
Address for correspondence: Karen Malone, Centre for Educational Research, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith NSW 2751, SAustralia. Email:


This article explores and reconsiders the view of children's encounters with place as central to a place-based pedagogy that seeks to dismantle rather than support constructions of a nature-culture binary. I unpack the current fervour for reinserting the child in nature and nature-based education as a significant phenomenon in environmental and outdoor education. I will draw on recent literature on place-based research and theorise using new materialist and posthumanist approaches that seek to disrupt anthropocentric views and support new ways of considering our encounters with the more-than-human world. Then, using these new approaches, I will theorise a recent place-based research project with children in the city of La Paz, Bolivia, to illustrate how it is possible to challenge current assumptions that are firmly entrenched in the child in nature movement. I will conclude by considering what intra-species relations, place encounters and child-body-animal-place relations can teach us about questioning anthropocentrism and human exceptionalism. Finally, I consider how can we overcome these limitations of a narrow and nostalgic view of ‘child and nature’ and reimagine a more diverse approach to education for a sustainable future.

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