Queering the data: the somatechnics of English early childhood education and care teachers

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Education has increasingly been consumed by neoliberal expectations that result in the need for data to be collected to justify regulative, pedagogical, curricular, and teaching practices. The marketisation of higher education requires more quantitative measurement of student attainment and progress which impacts on pedagogy and provision. Working with Karen Barad’s theorisations of spacetimemattering, agential cuts, intra-action, and diffractive analysis, I draw on research with Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) teachers who were working and concurrently studying on a degree programme. Empirical data was generated from a focus group discussing the influences of data recording software on the teachers and their professional practice, the devices used as part of the recording process, and the curricular expectations during children’s assessment. Scholars have argued that the need to ensure children meet developmentally appropriate milestones in ECEC can lead to performative, technicist teacher practices driven by data and that these practices may result in datafication and ‘dividual’ subjectivities (Deleuze 1992). Entangling with material-discursive productions between ECEC teachers and ‘data’ provides a new contribution to understanding the influence of other-than-human bodies on the process of dividualisation and its impact on professional practice. Although focussing on ECEC teachers and their assessment practices, the outcomes of the analysis are connected to higher education, which is facing similar pressures for student progress. In line with the theme of this issue of Somatechnics, I discuss how putting to work Barad’s agential realism can articulate and rethink both human and other-than-human matterings by revealing how some ‘agential cuts’ reinforce deficit dividual discourse. In turn, this can help us move beyond datafication and dividual practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-72
Number of pages21
Issue number1
Early online date1 Feb 2020
Publication statusEarly online - 1 Feb 2020


  • agential cuts
  • assessment data
  • Barad
  • ECEC teachers
  • higher education
  • intra-action


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