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date: 16 December 2018

Poststructural Temporalities in School Ethnography

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.

Poststructural temporalities, as the ways subjects (humans) and objects (non-humans) become in relation to the idea of time we hold on to, are critical to the ways that contemporary ethnographic practices produce knowledge. Ethnography, as a complex research practice ascribed to anthropology, has provided a rich theoretical space to think of the ways we know and who we are as knowing subjects. Poststructural temporalities imply being critical about dominant (humanist) notions of time that allow for specific social orders and hierarchies to persist as real, intelligible, and easily available to be described in schools: only certain bodies and identities make sense (teenagers, adults, children, teachers, women, principals, etc.), their relations (student/teacher; men/women, white/black), and representative concepts to be lived as real (deviant, normal, progress, future, mature, gifted, etc.). Poststructural temporalities, as action and force, allow for the appearance of truths waiting to become intelligible. Poststructural ways of thinking time promise to move away from traditional frames to understand the social, biological, cultural, and affective school subject that might turn into a political experience of the now. Uneven time, meaning something different from the traditional concepts of linearity, regularity, and the exhaustive and restricted units of prescribed segments, allows us to decline the regular idea of “telling an experience.” Sites, experiences, subjects, and objects become connections and entanglements to write about. Definitely, the now cannot be inhabited by the Cartesian subject. With these ideas in mind, poststructural temporalities in school ethnographies are political in such a way that those unintelligible relations between humans, matter, and affects being produced in schools right now might show up.