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Racism and Imperialism in the            Child Development DiscourseSadaf Shallwani, SPSSI Convention, Chicago, June 27, 2...
Knowledge is racialized Racism: as a means of ‘separating out the groups that exist within a population’ (Foucault, 1975-7...
Overview Example text: NAEYC Position Statement   Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early   Childhood Programs (Bred...
Overview Child development discipline’s role in modernity’s social regulation ‘Child development’ as the production of the...
Overview Child development discipline’s role in modernity’s social regulation ‘Child development’ as the production of the...
Child development’s role in modernity’ssocial regulation Modern Enlightenment project: objective scientific knowledge and ...
Child development’s role in modernity’ssocial regulation Social regulation and engineering – state power (Foucault) Techno...
Child development’s role in modernity’ssocial regulation Foucault: management of ‘childhood’ Child development discipline ...
Child development’s role in modernity’ssocial regulation Child development discipline monitors and regulates:   the bodies...
Child development’s role in modernity’ssocial regulation Child development discipline monitors and regulates:   the bodies...
Child development’s role in modernity’ssocial regulation Child development discipline monitors and regulates:   the bodies...
Overview Child development discipline’s role in modernity’s social regulation ‘Child development’ as the production of the...
‘Child development’ as the production ofthe Western imperial subject Power is constitutive and productive (Foucault, 1977/...
‘Child development’ as the production ofthe Western imperial subject Notion of ‘development’ as ‘progress’ Developing a se...
‘Child development’ as the production ofthe Western imperial subject Normalizes and prescribes development of    the ratio...
‘Child development’ as the productionof the Western imperial subject Normalizes and prescribes development of   the ration...
‘Child development’ as the productionof the Western imperial subject Normalizes and prescribes development of   the ration...
‘Child development’ as the productionof the Western imperial subject Normalizes and prescribes development of   the ration...
‘Child development’ as the productionof the Western imperial subject Normalizes and prescribes development of   the ration...
Child development:A socially constructed disciplinary discourse All knowledge is socially constructed Disciplinary discour...
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Racism and imperialism in the child development discourse (presentation) (2008)

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Shallwani, S. (June, 2008). Racism and imperialism in the child development discourse. Paper presented at the Biennial Convention of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, Chicago.

Abstract: Knowledge in the human sciences in general, and in the study of the child in particular, is racialized. In this presentation, I argue that the knowledge base on ‘child development’ reflects and reproduces the White (modern imperial Western) subject. The three main aspects of my argument are as follows: (1) the dominant discourse on child development, dominated by the discipline of developmental psychology, is rooted in and carries out the goals of the modern Enlightenment project, which include the regulation of individual and multiple bodies (Foucault, 1975-76/2003, p. 242-243); (2) the dominant discourse on child development depends on colonial implications of ‘development’ to privilege imagined White civility (Coleman, 2006, p. 10) and produce the Western imperial subject; and (3) the dominant discourse on child development rests on particular imagined notions of a ‘We’ – the (inter)national subject who, even in the rhetoric of inclusion, has the power to locate difference in and exclude the racialized ‘Other’ (Ahmed, 2000, p. 97).
The text I use as an empirical example is the official position statement of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC, 1997), found in the guidebook entitled: Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs (S. Bredekamp & C. Copple, 1997). This text is a typical example of the dominant child development discourse, and is highly influential in the design, development, and evaluation of programs, curricula, and pedagogical practices with young children, both in North America and around the world. Through the deconstruction of this text, I argue that the dominant discourse on child development reflects and furthers the goals of the modern Enlightenment project including social regulation, privileges imagined White civility and aims to reproduce the Western imperial subject, and rests on particular imagined notions of ‘We’ and the ‘Other’.

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Racism and imperialism in the child development discourse (presentation) (2008)

  1. 1. Racism and Imperialism in the Child Development DiscourseSadaf Shallwani, SPSSI Convention, Chicago, June 27, 2008Shallwani, S. (June, 2008). Racism and imperialism in the childdevelopment discourse. Paper presented at the Biennial Convention of theSociety for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, Chicago.Contact: Sadaf Shallwani, Department of Human Development andApplied Psychology, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education / Universityof Toronto. http://sadafshallwani.net
  2. 2. Knowledge is racialized Racism: as a means of ‘separating out the groups that exist within a population’ (Foucault, 1975-76/2003, p. 255) Scientific knowledge is ‘racialized’ in the way it normalizes, hierarchizes, and includes/excludes certain groups of humans (Goldberg, 1993)
  3. 3. Overview Example text: NAEYC Position Statement Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997)
  4. 4. Overview Child development discipline’s role in modernity’s social regulation ‘Child development’ as the production of the Western imperial subject
  5. 5. Overview Child development discipline’s role in modernity’s social regulation ‘Child development’ as the production of the Western imperial subject
  6. 6. Child development’s role in modernity’ssocial regulation Modern Enlightenment project: objective scientific knowledge and social regulation Child development discourse: rooted in and reflective of modernity
  7. 7. Child development’s role in modernity’ssocial regulation Social regulation and engineering – state power (Foucault) Technologies: Dividing, hierarchizing, normalizing Overall rule: the ‘norm’
  8. 8. Child development’s role in modernity’ssocial regulation Foucault: management of ‘childhood’ Child development discipline monitors and regulates childhood
  9. 9. Child development’s role in modernity’ssocial regulation Child development discipline monitors and regulates: the bodies and spaces with which children interact, and children themselves.
  10. 10. Child development’s role in modernity’ssocial regulation Child development discipline monitors and regulates: the bodies and spaces with which children interact early childhood environment early childhood caregivers/teachers children themselves
  11. 11. Child development’s role in modernity’ssocial regulation Child development discipline monitors and regulates: the bodies and spaces with which children interact children themselves dividing practices observing and training bodies to be ‘useful and docile’
  12. 12. Overview Child development discipline’s role in modernity’s social regulation ‘Child development’ as the production of the Western imperial subject
  13. 13. ‘Child development’ as the production ofthe Western imperial subject Power is constitutive and productive (Foucault, 1977/1984) Child development discourse aims to produce the modern imperial Western subject
  14. 14. ‘Child development’ as the production ofthe Western imperial subject Notion of ‘development’ as ‘progress’ Developing a sense of ‘Self’ vs. ‘Other’
  15. 15. ‘Child development’ as the production ofthe Western imperial subject Normalizes and prescribes development of the rational scientist, the conquering explorer, the citizen of democracy, and the member of a capitalist market economy.
  16. 16. ‘Child development’ as the productionof the Western imperial subject Normalizes and prescribes development of the rational scientist dependence-attachment and irrationality to independence-detachment and rationality separateness and discovery the conquering explorer the citizen of democracy the member of a capitalist market economy
  17. 17. ‘Child development’ as the productionof the Western imperial subject Normalizes and prescribes development of the rational scientist the conquering explorer exploration and achievement, ‘frontier’ language the citizen of democracy the member of a capitalist market economy
  18. 18. ‘Child development’ as the productionof the Western imperial subject Normalizes and prescribes development of the rational scientist the conquering explorer the citizen of democracy self-regulating and other-regulating the member of a capitalist market economy
  19. 19. ‘Child development’ as the productionof the Western imperial subject Normalizes and prescribes development of the rational scientist the conquering explorer the citizen of democracy the member of a capitalist market economy entrepreneurs consumers with choices and preferences
  20. 20. Child development:A socially constructed disciplinary discourse All knowledge is socially constructed Disciplinary discourses reflect the social contexts in which they evolve Knowledge production can be racialized in the way it categorizes, normalizes, and hierarchizes groups of humans

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