Bear-Child Stories in Late Liberal Colonialist Spaces of Childhood

  • Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw University of Victoria
  • Lara di Tomasso Consultant
  • Fikile Nxumalo Student University of Victoria


The article examines the entangled constitution of the child-bear figure through the analytics of late liberal colonial investments.  It maps three frictional child-bear encounters, both imaginary and real, in the context of early childhood classrooms: bears as unwelcome and (yet) original inhabitants that pose a threat to human safety, bears as endangered victims in need of human protection, and bears as cuddly and cute creatures in children’s literature. Specifically, we explore bear-child entanglements in early childhood classrooms in British Columbia by grappling with the complexities and tensions that emerge in late liberal colonized and colonialist spaces where bears and human children “meet.”


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Author Biographies

Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw, University of Victoria
Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw is professor of early childhood studies in the School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria, where she is also the coordinator of the early years specialization. She currently holds a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant for her ethnographic study “Encounters with Materials in Early Childhood Education,” and works in collaboration with members of the Common Worlds Childhoods and Pedagogies Research Collective. Her current research revolves around the pedagogical possibilities of multispecies relations for early childhood.
Lara di Tomasso, Consultant
Lara di Tomasso received a BA in Political Science from McGill University in 2003, and completed her Master’s in Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria in 2012. Her research interests include processes of racialization, ongoing colonialisms, migration, and the ways in which these forces impact the lives of children and families in Canada. Lara currently resides in Toronto, and works as a consultant in the non-profit sector, and as a course writer for the University of Victoria.
Fikile Nxumalo, Student University of Victoria
Fikile Nxumalo is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria. She currently holds a doctoral SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) fellowship for her research, which brings posthumanist theories, Indigenous relationalities and postcolonial perspectives into conversation with a focus on possibilities for anticolonial and antiracist responses to everyday encounters in early childhood spaces. Fikile is currently working as a pedagogical facilitator, supporting early childhood educators in her local community.
How to Cite
Pacini-Ketchabaw, V., di Tomasso, L., & Nxumalo, F. (2014). Bear-Child Stories in Late Liberal Colonialist Spaces of Childhood. Journal of Childhood Studies, 39(1), 25-53.