Preschool as an image and looking apparatus: ways of seeing and visual knowledge production in small children’s everyday lives

Anne-Li Lindgren
Anne-Li Lindgren

Anne-Li Lindgren

Preschool (kindergarten and nursery schools) is one of several specialized institutions created for children that produces and reproduces notions of children and childhood. One of the ways in which this is done is through the images produced in and around preschools. In this project, different kinds of visuality and ways of seeing and looking in and around preschool are examined – from historical and contemporary perspectives. The project is interdisciplinary, since it uses knowledge from various disciplines (including inter- and trans-disciplines) in order to study the phenomenon of visuality and ways of seeing. This means that different theoretical and methodological approaches are put to use in order to develop new knowledge about ways of seeing and visuality in and around institutional settings for small children. Visual material produced in science/research and visual materials produced in preschool practices are analyzed with the aim of learning more about visuality’s role in learning processes in societal, cultural and individual processes and in relation to small children’s everyday lives. Key questions explored in this project are:

  • How can institutional practices of care and learning be understood in relation to visual communication and ways of seeing?
  • How are ways of seeing and visuality part of professionalization practices and preschool childhoods?
  • How and what do children learn in seeing and visual practices today compared with one hundred years ago?
  • What becomes visible and what remains unseen via visualizations in and of preschool?

Contextualization: Images in and around preschool, both still and moving, are desirable within society; many people want to see them, share them, and maybe even own them. There are images about preschool and images produced in preschool – both historical and contemporary. Images in preschool are also images about preschool and the production and interpretation of images is an ongoing process and part of everyday life. These images are circulated via digital media as well as in analogue form on paper, between children, parents, teachers, heads of preschools, politicians and a public audience. The images become bridges between intimate private rooms, public spaces and semi-public virtual and analogue spaces. This means that many people and machines are involved in the production, interpretation and circulation of images in, for and about preschool. These images attract a large audience and many practices of seeing and looking are involved in their production and interpretation. In this sense, preschool can be described as an image and looking apparatus, and as part of other image and looking apparatuses both inside and outside preschool. Four PhD theses are connected to the project.

Doctoral projects within the research project:

På svenska: Förskolan som bild- och blickapparat: seendepraktiker och visuell kunskapsproduktion i barns vardag