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: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14733285.2022.2059341