14 Jun Presentation at RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2015
Affrica Taylor and Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw presented Kids, roos and racoons: awkward encounters and mixed affects as part of the panel Children and Nature in the Anthropocene – Learning to be affected: Mapping young people’s more than human relations at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2015 – Geographies of Children, Youth & Families Research Group
Within the western cultural imaginary, child-animal relations are characteristically invoked with fond nostalgia and sentimentality. They are often represented as natural and innocent relations, thick with infantilising and anthropomorphising ‘cute’ emotions. Our multispecies ethnographic research – which is conducted in the everyday, lived, common worlds of Australian and Canadian children and animals – reveals a very different political and emotional landscape. We find these embodied child-animal relations to be non-innocently entangled, fraught and messy: implicated in the ecological legacies of settler-colonialism and the Anthropocene; shaped by the mortal tensions produced by these legacies; and characterized by awkward encounters of mixed affects.
In this presentation, we focus upon some awkward encounters of mixed affect, when kids and kangaroos bodily encounter each other in a bush setting in Canberra, and when kids and raccoons co-inhabit an urban forest setting in Vancouver. We trace the imbroglio of child-animal curiosities, warinesses, risks, inconveniences, revulsions, attachments and confrontations at these sites. While reflecting upon these awkward encounters, we engage with a series of questions relevant to the session theme: How might the mutual affects of these awkward child-animal encounters help us to rethink the boundary between human and more-than-human? How might learning to be affected by the animals with whom we coinhabit help us to find new ways of understanding our place and agency in the world?