New Abstract / Feminist affect and children's embodied trauma

Feminist new materialisms account for the agency of the body and the ways it is entangled with, in and through its environment. Similarly, affect scholars have put words to the bodily feelings and attunements that we can’t describe. In this paper, we provide a brief survey of feminist thought that established the scholarly landscape and appetite for the turn to affect and offer this as a theoretical tool for thinking through the child body. Feminist affect is used here as a resource for understanding embodied change in children who are living with intergenerational trauma. Through analysing data from the Interfaith Childhoods project, we explore art as a way to affectively rework trauma in three case studies with refugee children from our Australian fieldwork sites. Through our new materialist arts based approaches, embodied changes in children emerge that speak to how bodies inherit and are affected by things that often can’t be described. Specifically, in relation to their religious, cultural and refugee histories (Van der Kolk 2014, Menakem 2017), we offer the analysis in this paper as a route towards understanding children’s bodily experience and expression, in ways that have been made possible by affective lines of inquiry pioneered by feminist scholarship.