Wednesday, 10 June 2020


Children & Childhood Seminar - Professionalism, leadership and practitioner identity

Brooks Building, Room 2.28

Emotional labour, Ordinary Affects and the Early Childhood Education and Care Teacher

Dr Nikki Fairchild (University of Portsmouth) 

The Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) teacher has been conceptualised as both maternal and professional where emotional labour needs to be suppressed/ harnessed as part of their role. This presentation provides an expansion to current productions of the ECEC worker-as-mother and contributes to a new materialisation of often unrecognised emotional labour, professionalism and care work. Building on the work of Brian Massumi and Kathleen Stewart I argue that affect theory and posthuman thinking can offer ways to reconsider the worker-as-mother via connections of non-human and human bodies which produce a material (re)thinking of emotional labour. I trace the formation of the ECEC worker-as-mother, then employ theorisations of Ordinary Affects to mobilize thinking about the happenstance events of everyday life for ECEC teachers. I diffractively consider how both non-human and human bodies can enhance/diminish the capacities for/of emotional labour and how emotions become the manifestations of these affective connections.

This presentation is based on the article Fairchild, N. and Mikuska, E. (2019) Emotional labour, Ordinary Affects and the Early Childhood Education and Care Worker which is currently under review. Permission has been granted from Eva Mikuska (University of Chichester) to present this at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Nikki Fairchild is a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood, her specialist areas are professionalism, leadership, and practitioner identity. Her research and publications has two foci 1) enacting posthumanist theorizing, including the work of Deleuze and Guattari and new material feminists, to extend existing theorisations of professionalism, professional identity, and distributed more-than-human gendered subjectivities in Early Childhood, and 2) working with a range of inter-disciplinary scholars to explore post-qualitative methodology and what this might mean for knowledge production. Her most recent project in Early Childhood Education and Care is ‘Unsettling Early Childhood Education and Care classrooms: Ecological relations, professionals and more-than-human subjectivities’ funded by a Kickstart grant from the Sociological Review Foundation. This project explores the relational connections between Early Years Teachers in classrooms and gardens to consider how teachers/places/spaces impacts on/is impacted by expanded notions of subjectivity and what might be produce through these assemblages.

Discussant: Jo Basford