Dismantling the organism: Race and power in a first nations music video

Mills, Kathy A. (2016) Dismantling the organism: Race and power in a first nations music video. In Proceedings of AERA Annual Meeting 2016: Public Scholarship for Educating Diverse Democracies, Americal Educational Research Association (AERA), Washington DC.


This paper was presented in a symposium session chaired by Kathy Mills entitled: Literacy as a Body without Organs: Democratic Assemblages, Multiplicities, and Intensities of Multimodal Practices. The session draws on Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) metaphor of the “body without organs” to open democratic dialogue about the assemblages, democratic multiplicities, and intensities of multimodal literacy practices that are often augmented and metamorphosed by digital technologies. Enacting this vision, we position our work to “experiment with the opportunities it offers, find an advantageous place on it, [and] find potential movements of deterritorialization” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, p. 161). The session brings together literacy theorists in the digital times to produce both flows and conjunctions of ideas. We address one challenge: to “try out continuums of intensities segment by segment…” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, p. 161).

Overall Session Summary

Objectives: We aim to catalyze “conjugated flows” of literacy practices among the five presentations, demonstrating instances of multimodal and digitally mediated communication from around the world. Together, we ultimately escape from the box to bring forth intensities of literacy practices to imagine a new kind of “body without organs” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, p. 161). Forming a creative response to AERA’s 2016 theme: “Public Scholarship to Educate Diverse Democracies” we demonstrate how literacy practices can be conceived as democratic assemblages that account for diverse multiplicities of identity, culture and practice. The aim is not to become caught up in endless self-reproduction, but to bring together new “assemblages”, “segmentarities”, and “lines of flight” to create new “intensities” of literacy practices that are mediated by digital technologies and that are realized locally and globally (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, p. 161).

Overview: Uniting perspectives of literacy, diversity, and democratic practices in education, the symposium session will begin by introducing the Deleuze-Guattarian (1987) concept of the Body without Organs (BwO), offering an invitation to literacy studies to address three related issues of affect, materiality and the body, and temporality, especially in relation to immanence and emergence. The second speaker will extend the Body Without Organs concept by "dismantling the organism" of schooled literacy through a multimodal video analysis of race portrayed by Indigenous students in Australia. The third presentation explores assemblages of literacy as a Body without Organs through a longitudinal case study that reveals the development of a boy's self at two points in time - age 6 and 12 - and captures the fluidity and multiplicity that accompanies becoming through the boy's assemblage of online and transnational literacy practices, self-portraits, and talk about texts. The fourth presentation uses Deleuze and Guattari's concept to "deterritorialise" pedagogy with ELL's by showing how aesthetics and critical literacy can be productively brought together. The final speaker will provide a cautionary conclusion to guard against blind faith in digital media as a new kind of Body without Organs.

Scholarly Significance: The papers in this symposium have vital scholarly significance because it is through diverse theory generation, metamorphosing, and augmentation of the existing strata of multimodal literacy theory for diverse social and cultural groups that we can succeed in freeing new lines of theoretical and pedagogical flight in a digital age.

Structure of the Session: Each of the five papers challenges current thinking about literacy practices by focusing powerful lenses on multimodal and often digital literacy practices, layering contrasting and complementary viewpoints to democratize the way we see and practice literacy education. The session presenters include Kevin Leander, Kathy A. Mills, Catherine Compton-Lilly, Jennifer Alford and Peter Smagorinsky. It concluded with discussant, Professor Arnetha Ball (AERA President, 2011-2012), who powerfully synthesised and highlighted the salient principles of the presentations to inspire an equitable and democratic vision for the future of literacy and diversity.

Reference: Deleuze, G., and F. Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. (B. Massumi, Trans.). Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 98145
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Deleuze, race, Indigenous, literacy, Guattari
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. LOTE ESL and TESOL) (130204)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > Schools > School of Teacher Education & Leadership
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 The Author
Copyright Statement: Not for reproduction.
Deposited On: 17 Aug 2016 05:37
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2016 21:30

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