PhD Student Smruthi Bala Kannan published an article in Children’s Geographies journal, “Clean bodies in school: spatial-material discourses of children’s school uniforms and hygiene in Tamil Nadu, India”


Abstract: Schoolchildren’s embodied subjectivity has often been understood as a bio-political tool to ‘clean up’ and modernize poor and marginalized communities. In many post-colonial contexts, school uniforms frequently appear as visual symbols of a child’s clean, schooled body and democratic access to education. Through ethnographic research with 10–14-year-old schoolchildren in urbanizing areas in northern Tamil Nadu, my paper asks how children inhabit and co-construct the school uniform code’s cleanliness discourse in their everyday lives. Studying plural school uniforms through a spatial lens, I explore schoolchildren’s embodied and relational work in negotiating with the equalizing school uniform codes within the schools and the circulation of multiple school uniforms in the community outside. Engaging with a shifting visual aesthetic of embodied cleanliness in a context of class segregated schooling. I argue that school uniforms are discursive sites where exclusions of class and gender, with undertones of caste and age, are simultaneously reinforced and negotiated.


Read the full article: