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Lamination as a Methodological Tool for Seeing the Layered Relationships Between Bodies, Land, and History

Tue, April 17, 10:35am to 12:05pm, New York Hilton Midtown, Second Floor, Gibson Suite


How does the professional vision of educational researchers, influence framings of land and Indigenous bodies in activity as well as the creation of learning theory? This question originates from my own positionality as a researcher of mixed descent and my work with Indigenous communities. Drawing on Goodwin’s notion of lamination, I suggest that the cumulative body of work in developmental and educational research is much like a substrate, or base, from which intellectual activity is built. These substrates, often grounded in Western theories, obscure Indigenous lands and the intellectual traditions of Indigenous peoples. As Bryan Brayboy explains in his 2005 piece, “Toward a Tribal Critical Race Theory in Education”:

The everyday experiences of American Indians, the Indigenous inhabitants of the Americas, have essentially been removed from the awareness of dominant members of U.S. society. These viable images have instead been replaced with fixed images from the past of what American Indians once were (p 431).

In this paper, I raise questions about whether images, in this case video of Indigenous families’ experiences on nature walks, are indeed viable. In other words, are video records of families’ everyday activities capable of helping us a research community move beyond the kind of cognitive imperialism (Simpson, 2011) that transposes the everyday experiences of Indigenous families to fixed images from the past? I also pose the following methodological question: what are the affordances of layering semiotic resources (video) produced through research for building theories of the historicized body within research on embodied learning?

The research presented in this paper is contextualized within a study of parent-child nature walks. The study was designed to explore how families on the move, coordinated attention in order to make entities in the world available for observation and meaning making. Study methods were influenced by the work of Indigenous theorists who have argued that as humans we learn by engaging our bodies and all of our senses in activity (Cajete, 2000; Kawagley, 2006; Simpson, 2011). The larger dataset consists of video-recordings of Native and non-Native families on a series of walks in urban forest preserves. I aimed to capture both “between person-engagement” (Angelillo, Rogoff, & Chavajay, 2007) as well as each participant’s embodied experiences with non-human kinds and land. As such, each participant used a wearable camera, capturing his or her own perspective (Lahlou, 2011). Parent and child videos were synchronized to create a 2-in-1 effect (Figure 2).

I first present a case study of one of the Native family’s walks, focusing on how the body becomes historicized within interaction and acts as resource for future knowledge building. Second, I consider the implications of synchronizing and layering subjective video for researchers’ viewpoints. Third, I bring together contemporary and historical maps of the nature preserves were walks occurred in order to consider how resources outside of the video frame can foreground new scales of time-place relations. I conclude by considering how methods for seeing activity impacts how we story families’ experiences and build upon theories of embodied learning.


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