Humanize… Many of us repeat during these times -and emphatically- the need to humanize our bonds, our perspectives, our horizons, our actions. The pandemic invites us to have a sensitive and interdisciplinary dialogue to disarm the ongoing hegemonic dehumanization. In fact, education and childhood are the privileged territories to attempt this.
Boaventura de Sousa Santos (2009) mentions the need to dismantle the hegemonic knowledge, which is closely related to the possibility of humanizing. Centuries of modernity in which a deliberate dissociation between body and soul -among other splits- has fragmented human integrity, dehumanizing us. The white, Western, patriarchal, colonial perspective has organized our actions, knowledge, power, words and our sense of self.
A utopia driven by emergencies is the inspiration to build a future from the complexity and power of the present, coming from the hope of a new order. The thresholds of the unknown and the uneasiness of discomfort, which arise from the profound inequalities regarding the children of the world, summon us to think of transformations from the ethical beginning of life.
The way to humanize is by inhabiting ourselves completely, legitimizing the sensitive bodily experience and the depth of corporeality. This implies an ethical and aesthetic view of transformation as a social and political action.
Why assume a bodily perspective?
Our body, the thread of life that weaves human existence, which is a social and political construction located in the present time and space, is the canvas where our history and the history of past generations, our life and also our death are inscribed.
When the body is considered as a container, as a enclosed space for the subject, it is perceived as an object; therefore, the body becomes split off from the subject, dehumanized.
Even more so, in a corseted body by disciplines of adult-centered times, games, body techniques or stereotyped dances, gestures and emotions are formatted according to sex, self-perceived gender, age, ethnicity, class membership or the most diverse categories with which the world is organized.
In addition, our bodies experience and inscribe the realization of rights from the earliest age, an unavoidable perspective in order to consider children as subjects of rights from birth, intercultural citizens of today.
Researching the educational narrative and the possibility of social transformation taking our bodies into account means perceiving them as carriers and producers of culture and knowledge. Culture understood from a relational perspective, as a set of interwoven strategies to inhabit the world and make sense of our relationship with each of the worlds we inhabit while creating a foundation for the memory of our actions.
Now, is it possible to transcend the material aspect of the body in the times of social distancing and even after? Yes. There is an interface between the borders of the bodies, where in its depths we find gestures, voices and stories; this is the space of corporeality. It is that place where we can rediscover the power of gestures, the intensity of dialogues to find a different side of ourselves, to embrace and support ourselves in other ways and thus build a web of hope that is not naive but a critical and committed wait.
Representations of the other also erupt there, which turn us into opportunity or threat; those that are lovingly valued and those that make us vulnerable, confirming social inequalities that mark children, reject human beings, leaving them behind in a social and symbolic abyss.
Humanizing implies betting on the integration of oneself and with others, as well as to question representations of the other –which come from collective imagination- that continue to shape the children’s experience and the mutual perception of otherness.
Giving room to the child’s questioning voice allows for ruptures. The struggles of peoples for their rights also allow some representations to gradually change, which is where we find opportunity and challenge. And in that hope, we are enunciating our feelings and thoughts, building interdisciplinary dialogues that allow us to rethink ourselves.
Education as an unquestionable right, and as a territory for the decolonization of knowledge, is an unfinished path of emancipatory questions rather than answers. In particular, and in its unavoidable political dimension, intercultural education criticizes the adult-centered perspective around early childhood in order to stop the instruments of homogenization of subjectivities, functional to the commodification of the savage capitalism.
It means questioning the proposal to contextualize it, to give room to new interactions that function in the experience of teaching and learning, where cultural structures and different emotions come to light in order to be recognized and enunciated, visible in each gesture.
Hence, the power of childish gestures connects us with the need to recover the most genuine part of ourselves, perhaps, by going back to the knowledge of our indigenous peoples, reviewing our reality from our actions… It means to decolonize our integrity coming from our knowledge, our presence, our thoughts, our dreams, that is, ourselves. Meanwhile, we feel our bodies thinking, reviewing how we inhabit them. This implies creating a new co-responsibility to exist, expanding the experience of childhood and caring for its vital impulse.
During these trying times of the pandemic, there is an opportunity to honor that vital impulse, reinventing landscapes that are more equal and more humane, where this chaos makes way for a new order to arise, which finds us lovingly available to the unique presence of each child, bringing ruptures with their gestures and always inviting us to a new beginning (Bustelo, 2011).
Boaventura de Sousa Santos (2009). Una epistemología del Sur. La reinvención del conocimiento y la emancipación social. México, CLACSO and Siglo XXI
Bustelo, Eduardo (2011). El recreo de la infancia. Argumentos para otro comienzo. Buenos Aires, Siglo XXI Editores.
Cussianovich, Alejandro (2009). Ensayos sobre infancia II. Sujetos de derechos y protagonista. Perú, Iflejant.
Teacher of Preschool Education received at the National Normal School No. 1 Pte. Roque Sáenz Peña. Graduated in Public Relations from the Universidad Argentina de la Empresa. Specialist in Cultural Management and Cultural Policies and Master in Sociology of Culture and Cultural Analysis from the Higher Institute of High Social Studies of the National University of San Martín. Research line: Critical intercultural education in early childhood from an interdisciplinary perspective between infant education, the Sociology of culture and the Anthropology of the Body. Author of articles, publications, presentations and workshops at the national and international level.
Administrative Vice President of OMEP Argentina and coordinator of the OMEP Cerca tuyo Program.