BioSocioCultural Inclusion: Challenging Homogeneity in Educational Spaces

Main Researcher: Claudia Matus (Educación UC) See profile


Our interdisciplinary research line focuses on creating a field of discussion which problematizes and updates the complex relationships between the biological, the social, and the cultural, as well as the effects that these nonrelationships have in the production of subjects, communities and institutions. One of our main research focal points is to problematize the foundations on which humanist assumptions are built (e.g: causality, linearity, and representation) and used to explain, in acritical ways, who the subjects and objects of an investigation are, and how they should be researched. Our approach is based on contemporary theories that seek to rethink research objects and methodological practices, allowing us to map new issues and explore their potential to change or transform.

Hence, our proposal is to scrutinize the production of idealized categories of “normalcy” that  also create subjects, objects, technologies, categories, and groups that do not conform to these fantasies of normalcy, and are therefore excluded. We are interested in how these orders (normalcy and difference) are co-produced by rationalizations and processes such as genderization, racialization, sexualization, ageism, and classism, among others. Our theoretical approaches are anchored in post-humanist and post-representational perspectives, providing us with a political framework through which to question the separation—often understood as a natural distinction—between researcher and research subject, leading us to problematize the production of knowledge through research methods.

As such, this is a discussion space open to people from all areas of research and research methods who feel compelled to create, debate, and problematize around any of these themes. Our efforts are oriented toward training researchers, as well as extending the discussion amongst academics, postgraduate students, and both governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Current ongoing projects and research:

  • Working and reading circles

The main objective of the working and reading circles is to use collaborative work based on conceptualizations that organize differentiation systems, in order to develop investigation resources and themes, as well as analytical possibilities.

 

We organize our groups according to theoretical, methodological and ethical-political affinities. We are brought together by individual and shared interests that converge in biweekly conversations.

 

The groups are coordinated by:

  1. Claudia Matus, Gender and Epistemologies (members: Andrés Haye, Dominique Beyer, Pascale Bussenius, Pablo Herraz, Soledad Márquez, Camila Stipo, Soledad Véliz)
  2. Macarena García González, New Materialisms, Arts, Reading & Emotions (members: Valentina Errázuriz, Cristián García, Emilia Schuster, Soledad Véliz)
  3. Natalia Hirmas, Contemporary Practices, Discourses and Materialities of Eugenics (members: Jorge Gallardo, Kyuttzza Gómez, Cristián Montenegro).

 

  • Postethnographies of diagnosis and risk

The focus of these ethnographies, which were carried out in two Chilean schools, is to trace the production of what we have called ‘diagnosis cultures’ and ‘risk cultures’, both of which are central elements in the current production of policies, practices and discourses that attempt to explain diversity and inclusion. We understand “diagnosis” and “risk” to be co-constitutive parts of a problematic and complex framework (which includes institutions, people, disciplines, daily practices, objects, affections, and common sense as knowledge, among others) used to produce normalcy and difference as monolithic and unquestionable attributes, and as individual traits ascribable to certain human beings. Thus, this project assumes the responsibility of showing how necessary it is to create constructive relationships between life sciences and social sciences, in order to cultivate more complex and nuanced ways of understanding, which will allow us to operationalize biological, social and cultural study fields in a more significant way. In other words, we believe that the constitution of new subjects in educational policies, research, and practices requires a more comprehensive view of school subjects.

Research Team: Claudia Matus, Erika González, Natalia Hirmas, Macarena García González.

 

  • Affective investments in encounters with picturebooks about difficult issues [research-intervention]

We use “challenging” picturebooks—complex books about issues considered to be difficult (death, xenophobia, loss)—in order to map affective investment and the relationship between readers, adult mediators and literary texts, and to explore imaginative ways to interrupt normative discourses about feelings, childhood, and the exercise of authority in literary mediation practices. We use theoretical perspectives that reconsider the role of emotions and affections produced through discourses, practices, and materialities, and that also produce exclusion.

Research Team: Macarena García González, Soledad Véliz.

 

  • Picture books, critical mediation, and migration narratives [research-intervention]

This -research-intervention is developed in relation to an initiative proposed by the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC), and focuses on working with teachers from schools that aremainly composed of migrant students. The research is implemented in three different regions of Chile, and seeks to map the narratives and emotional repertoires of teachers in regards to migration, as well as exploring art-based mediation using picturebooks, in an attempt to interrupt dominant narratives of nation and childhood.

Research Team:  Macarena García González.

 

  • Cultural Studies of Algorithms

The focus of this research is to explore the articulations between biological and social discourses, which, when combined, produce and justify the elaboration of those identities considered risky and ill-adapted to school spaces. To approach this, we present two instances of measurement instruments financed by the State that are shown to be discriminatory practices, and, as a result, produce the categories mentioned (risky/ill-adapted) at both an identity and a community level. We argue that these standardized instruments legitimize an unreflective production of algorithms that posit vulnerability as something ‘real’, and sustain a seemingly natural separation between biological and cultural rationalizations, which would explain the undesired academic trajectories of the students. While biological discourses reinforce the idea of the need of an adequate brain and body, cultural discourses encourage a moral present and promising future for those students and communities capable of anticipating school success and the promise of numbers.

Research Team: Valentina Riberi, Claudia Matus.

 

  • Cultural Studies of Instruments to Support the School Inclusion Law

This project originates from the enactment of the School Inclusion Law (SIL), which will be fully implemented on both a national level, and at multiple levels inside of educational establishments during the coming years. In this regard, this study is geared toward the elaboration of measurement instruments- both quantitative and qualitative- that promote different sensibilities regarding production and recording in the ways a variety of schools in Santiago understand, conceptualize, evaluate, operationalize, and, finally, produce forms of inclusion and exclusion on a daily basis. In addition, the project pushes a reflection-action approach about the production of measuring instruments themselves, and the generative capacity they have, in that they create the very phenomena they measure. Schools from five different boroughs in Santiago participate in this study.

Research Team: Claudia Matus, Valentina Riberi, Erika González

 

——

Assistant Research Team

 

Erika González -> (ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0732-6567)

Erika González. Psychology undergraduate, Masters candidate in Culture and Gender Studies (concentration in Humanities) at the University of Chile. I am currently investigating the materialities and principals implied in the regulation of the female body, through feminist and post-structural perspectives that posit affection as an indicator of processes of subjectivization, and as an expression of bodily regulation regimes in the use of educational supporting materials. My interests lie in gender and education studies from critical and post-humanist perspectives.

–  Masters in Culture and Gender Studies (concentration in Humanities). University of Chile

–  Psychology Undergraduate.  Silva Henríquez Catholic University.

 

Natalia Hirmas -> (ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7103-1731)

Natalia Hirmas. Starting from Occupational Therapy studies, I have moved closer to critical perspectives in childhood and mental health, an interest that grew after working in a special school with students with psychiatric diagnoses. I participated in a Masters in Cultural Studies (at U. de Artes y Ciencias Sociales) and am part of the ethnographic work in the Anillos Project “Production of Normalcy and Difference in Education.” After a research internship at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, I began my Doctorate in Education (at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile), where I am investigating the production of special needs education associated to behavior at intercultural schools (PEIB).

 

Valentina Riberi -> (ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8811-5889)

Valentina Riberi. I am currently working toward my Ph.D in Education at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. I define myself as a social researcher with a foundation in feminism and economics. My main research areas are Cultural Studies of Education, Quantification, and Social Policy. I am also developing interdisciplinary research about the phenomenon of measuring in education and how it produces differences at a social level. Specifically, I am using a New Materialism approach and following three instruments of measurement (IVE-SINAE, PISA, SIMCE), to argue that they co-produce discourses of vulnerability in education.

 

Soledad Véliz -> (ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7143-420X)

I am an Education PhD candidate at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. I am a psychologist and have a Master’s Degree in Arts (children’s book illustration) from the Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge School of Arts, and a Master’s Degree in Forensic Mental Health from the King’s College of London Psychiatry Institute. I research challenging, unusual, or disturbing themes in picture-book narratives, and how they stimulate, alter and challenge reading and literary teaching practices in educational contexts. I work at the Center for Developing Inclusive Technologies (CEDETi UC). I participate as a doctoral student in the “Emotional and Literary Repertoires for Childhood” FONDECYT led by Macarena García González. I am also a research assistant for “The Production of the Gender Norm” project in the Anillos Grant, and for the “BioSocioCultural Inclusion” research line at the Center for Educational Justice, both led by Claudia Matus.

 

Collaborators

Michael O’Malley — University of Texas, USA.
Estela Bensimon — Center for Urban Education, University of Southern California, USA
Evelyn Arizpe – University of Glasgow, UK
Ezekiel Dixon-Roman – University of Pennsylvania, USA
Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak – University of Wroclaw, Poland
Gabrielle Griffin — University of Uppsala, Sweden
Jayne Osgood – Middlesex University London, UK
Victoria de Rijke – Middlesex University London, UK
Lies Wesseling – Maastricht University, Netherlands
Diana Marre, Grupo Afin — Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain.
Marit Ursin – Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway
Carla Chinga-Ramírez – Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway
Xavier Minguez-López, Universidad de Valencia, Spain.
Pedro Moscoso, Grupo Afectos y Materialidades, Universidad Adolfo Ibañez, Chile.
Red de Investigadoras, Chile.

——

Associated Projects

  1. Proyecto Anillos NDE (PIA SOC180023: The Production of the Gender Norm, 2018-2021)
  2. Emotional and Literary Repertoires for Childhood (Fondecyt 11180070)

This is an interdisciplinary post-qualitative research project (St. Pierre) that arises from the need to inquire into the intersections between the biological and the sociocultural, which have so often been regarded as distinct and mutually exclusive. Inspired by new materialist philosophies, it explores alternatives to the emphasis on discourse and constructivism in research practices, acknowledging the importance of matter and relationalities for a critical, and yet imaginative, inquiry into possible relationsbetween emotions, literature, reading, shared affectivities, and worldlings.

The project arises from the growing interest in socio-emotional education and the fostering of so-called “emotional intelligence,” focusing on the uses and hopes organized around the reading of fiction. Different disciplinary traditions have claimed that the ability to manage emotions, which is assumed to be acquired from early childhood, is enhanced by literary reading (Nussbaum, Keen, Kidd, and Castano). Books and literature are believed to be tools to decipher our own emotional turmoils, predict those of others, and orient actions toward a socially shared notion of happiness (Illouz). Yet this celebration of the benefits of reading does not delve into anything but the most benign analysis of difference and power.

With a new materialist approach, this project explores fictional narratives as entangled with readers and the spaces of reading, inquiring into how they produce, reflect, or complicate normative scripts for everyday life, even while they may open up spaces for shared sensibilities that complicate understandings of (national) identities, age, gender, subjects, and objects. In this inquiry, we combine different approaches to produce sets of data that are read diffractively alongside each other (Barad, Haraway, Lenz Taguchi).

The approaches are as follows:

Analysis of Institutional Discourses: We analyze how emotional development and reading practices are produced in documents of institutional policy (mainly, but not only, issued by the Chilean Ministry of Education). We explore these documents under the concept of “affective practices” (Wetherell), with attention to the materialities of language and visuality.

Affective and Material Makings: We conduct interventions in formal and innon-formal educational spaces to inquire into the movement of assemblages of books, readers, spaces, adults, and literary mediation practices. We consider books to be “vibrant matter” that is assembled  with other non-human entities; we work with different sorts of books, but mainly with picturebooks about seemingly “difficult” matters (loss, fear, evil, violence, migration, death, abuse), identifying, reporting, and provoking intensities and feelings with attention to how they may be related to socially just pedagogies (Bozalek).

Cartographies of Mediation Practices: We conduct interviews with school teachers, librarians, volunteers, parents, educational experts, and directors of reading promotion agencies to bring insight into dominant understandings of what literature does to children, what children are, and which repertoires are available for adult reading mediators, with attention to narratives and understandings about the the links between literature and inclusive practices.

Research team: Macarena García González, Soledad Véliz, Valentina Errázuriz, Jacinta Jímenez, Emilia Schuster.

3. Children’s Literature in Critical Contexts of Displacement Network