Echoes in and off the classroom
Transactional placemaking in primary schools on Sint Maarten
Department of Cultural Anthropology and
University of Amsterdam
Prof. dr. Mattijs van de Port
Prof. dr. Peter Geschiere
Dr. Francio Guadeloupe
Prof. dr. Monique Volman
+31 (0)20 525 9111
In common understandings the primary school is the place where newcomers, mainly children but also migrants, learn to do as the oldcomers. In his seminal work on the emergence of national states and regions, Benedict Anderson attributes high importance to the school as place where the nation is taught and experienced. The primary school thus becomes the place where the ‘conscience nationale’ is created.
The classrooms in which I will do my research are located on the Dutch side of the bi-national island of Sint Maarten (a constituent state within the kingdom of the Netherlands) and Saint Martin (Collectivité d’Outre-mer of France). With its specific socioeconomic history and continuous reality of movement of goods, peoples and lifestyles, and its physical location within the Caribbean basin and its trans-Atlantic political geography as part of the Dutch Kingdom, Sint Maarten already poses questions to the common sense understanding of ‘the nation’. In this research I hope to learn about the variety of ways in which children imagine the places they live in, including, reproducing, contesting and creating entirely new ideas of co-existence.
This active imagining that takes place in all kinds of play and day to day interaction is what I call placemaking. In order to learn from the wide variety of placemaking practices that I presuppose to exist, I adopt a transactional/relational approach based on the work of John Dewey and Edouard Glissant. This approach recognizes the transitions taking place in learning allowing for something new to emerge.
To learn from all the different ways placemaking take space I adopt a set of intuitive and creative methods that connects to the multiple layers of consciousness. From these methods emerge temporary patterns, ideas and imaginations in word, sound and (moving) images. These resemble Glissant’s echoes-monde; feedback upon the world. These echoes-monde will at times merge and at other times diverge and illuminate through complementarity the shortcomings of each other.