New lives in an old land.

Re-turning to the colonization of New South Wales through stories of my parents and their ancestors.

Bronwyn Davies

Copyright: Ornithorhynchus Paradoxus Books

forthcoming 2018


 Part 1: Picking at the skin of silence: stories of my parents and grandparents

Part 2: Of princes, paupers and soldiers: stories of my father's family

Part 3: Od judges and surveyors, sailors and soldiers, convicts and farmers: stories of my mother's family


This book is an engagement with the history of colonization of New South Wales. This is not history in its traditional sense, but the past brought to life through cameo portraits of people who were my ancestors. As well as individual portraits I explore some of the events they lived through. I am interested in the places they came from and where they came to, in the times they lived in, and what was made to matter in those places and times. I draw on the concept of spacetimemattering, since places and times and what matters are inextricably tied to, or entangled with, each other. of colonization.

The portraits are of generations of those of my family members who migrated to New South Wales between 1788 and 1870. The thread that links the various stories together is genealogical insofar as the stories are, for the most part, drawn from my own family. On the assumption that colonization itself cannot be understood without understanding what went before, the stories that are told begin with lives prior to colonization. The stories prior to and post migration are brought to life through the fragments my family members left behind, such as letters and diaries and images of themselves, through historical documents, and through their connection to my own and my parents’ lives. The book situates itself in the land as it was in 1788 and as the land became post-colonization. It weaves together questions of politics, of history, of ecology, but it is not weighed down by those questions, since the literary approach to storytelling rests on the vividness of the lives through which these questions are opened up. The stories carry the reader with them, opening the possibility of new understandings of the present and the future through this re-visiting of past lives and the ways in which the act of colonization was made to make sense. The ethical aim of this book is not to praise or blame my ancestors for their actions, but to transport the reader into those past times, in such a way that they can re-think and re-animate their response-ability in the present.



This book is an engagement with Gilles Deleuze and collaborative writing. We ask here: how might we think of collaborative writing if we think with the concepts that Deleuze has generated? And, how might we begin to write, together, on what Deleuze would call an immanent plane of composition? On such a Deleuzian plane, or plateau, it was not appropriate to make Deleuze external to us, as if he were the authority who might inform us on the correct way forward. Instead we sought to make Deleuze one of us, and to open up, with him, a new stream of thought, and of being, in order to explore our topic of Deleuze and collaborative writing.

So why an immanent plane of composition? Immanence derives from the Latin, meaning “to remain within”. In Deleuzian philosophy this does not mean within the bounded individual self, but within life; not just human life, but all life, organic and inorganic, which Deleuze refers to as Being. Deleuzian immanence indicates a conceptual space in which one seeks to dissolve all binaries, and the categorizations that divide one from another; and to locate the Divine in all things. On this immanent plane God and matter are not separable, any more than mind and body, interior and exterior, self and other, theory and practice, man and animal, organic and inorganic. The question is never this or that, but always this and that. “Or” becomes “and” in what Deleuze called stuttering: and and and. Deleuze struggled to find a way of bringing together this idea that we are all part of the same Being, and at the same time, that we are multiple and emergent. In opposing binary thought and categorisation, he was not interested in making us all the same, but in finding how to think the multiple singularities within what he called the One-All: “A single and same voice for the whole thousand-voiced multiple, a single and same Ocean for all the drops, a single clamour of Being for all beings” (Deleuze, 1994: 304).

On the immanent plane of composition we are all part of the same Being and, at the same time, the interesting aspect, the creative life-giving aspect, does not lie in sameness but in divergence. Deleuze drew from the creative evolution that Bergson (1998) had mapped out in 1910, where creative affirmations lie in new experiences, through which the not-yet-known, the not-yet-imagined, can unfold—can be composed. Divergence is not to be thought as a feature of the individual of phenomenology, whose conscious intentions lie at the centre of a somewhat narcissistic, bounded ego (Davies, 2010a). Deleuze is interested in multiplicity, not of multiple identities, but in an “ontology [that] merges with the univocity of Being” (Deleuze, 2004c: 179), where univocity is the creative voice of matter.

Deleuze does not thus seek to populate the world with anarchic, sovereign individuals, whose will or choice is paramount, as many have thought. His concept of the automaton, for example, “strictly precludes any idea of ourselves as being, at any time, the source of what we think or do. Everything always stems from afar—indeed, everything is always “already-there,” in the infinite and inhuman resource of the One” (Badiou, 2000: 12). Thinking and being on a plane of immanence in the Deleuzian sense is not a celebration of the autonomous individual of phenomenology, but rather, it “requires that you place yourself where thought has already started, as close as possible to a singular case and to the movement of thought. Thinking happens “behind your back” and you are impelled and constrained by it” (Badiou, 2000: 14).

Our challenge, then, in writing on an immanent plane of composition with Deleuze, has been to find our own way of mobilizing this resource of the One, of thinking and being where thought has already started – in this case thought about Deleuze and collaborative writing. But unlike Deleuze, who, as philosopher, could identify the multiplication of concepts as his way of approaching the problem of infinite divergence and creative evolution, we, as social scientists and educators, must find our own way of engaging in thought, and our own way of engaging in being, that opens up the not-yet-known within itself. We must work with experience, multiplying it, while also drawing on, or, more correctly, playing with Deleuze’s multiplicity of concepts. 

Reviewers of Listening to Children wrote:

“I am amazed by the richness and warmth of the texts. I was confronted with a way of thinking that should be introduced in all teacher/pedagogical training. The creative effect of the texts can be situated on different levels:

• On the ‘square millimeter’ of the moments with children and teachers, where listening is an ethical activity in each moment instead of a linear process to be organized in a step-by-step ‘procedure’;

• On an intercultural level in different countries, Davies takes us to meetings from her own neighborhood to Sweden and back;

• On an abstract level of different theoretical/philosophical backgrounds, I think no one in the world can link abstract concepts of Barad, Butler, Deleuze … with ‘real life’ realities like Bronwyn Davies is doing. While she is doing this she is opening opportunities for bringing, for example, teacher training to a level that exceeds the technical;

• On a methodological level by the introduction of the concept of ‘diffraction’, and challenging the concept of reflection. This is very courageous because it is like swimming against a stream full of ‘reflective practitioner’ slogans.

The texts of this book can be seen as ethical-political because they offer a powerful discourse pleading for uncertainty. Identities are not fixed but flexible and nomadic. Self is seen as something that … has to be discovered as active (read: emergent/changing) rather than a fixed state of being.”

Dr Geert Van Hove
Ghent University/Free University Amsterdam, Holland

“The book focuses on the intra-action among children and also between children and adults, professionals and educators working especially with young children. It draws attention to important issue of how to move towards emergent listening and to anticipating ethical questions, which appear in intra-actions with children. Through the analyses in different settings, the book provides a new understanding of what emergent listening requires of us, and what intra-action is, and how children, community and its materials can become continuously legitimate actors in the encounters within a community. The well-organized introduction and interesting and profound knowledge of the studied domain gives the reader a clear picture of the studied settings. The research data is valuable in its distinctiveness, and the illuminating manner of the book gives interesting insights to life in these communities. The contribution of this book is in the thought provoking presentation of exceptional data, depicting the multiplicity and ambivalence of the day-to-day encounters among children, and also between children and adults.

As the aim of the book is to open up, and clarify, the multiple agencies that are functioning together, it can be seen to work against the taken-for-granted presuppositions concerning the interactions between adults and children. The author’s own novel conceptualizations are thorough and detailed, redefining the terms used, and opening up the concepts to make them clearly comprehensible … The theory supports the argument of what listening to children means, how it is generated, and how the children can be produced as legitimate political agents and subjects. These conceptualizations succeed in bringing a novel insight to theories of encounters in pedagogy … Studies of children always require ethical inquiry, which the author provides by opening up the studied encounters in minute detail.

There is a need for this kind of novel view in early childhood education and pedagogy.

This kind of literature is scarce, and this book offers a unique and novel new opening. Professor Bronwyn Davies is a well-known and highly appreciated expert in the studies of education in Finland and in Scandinavia.

Professor Davies’ thinking and theorizing is one of a kind; she has based these new ideas on her well-established and distinctive earlier thinking about the subject and its connection to the world. Nevertheless she manages to ‘ascend’ to different levels each time she writes, and succeeds in ‘renewing’ herself and her thinking in each new book.

I see this book as unique in its methodological approach, as well as in its very own pedagogical approach.”

Teija Rantala
University of Helsinki, Finland

“In this book we are taken on a journey, a flight, exploring possibilities of becoming communities. Davies uses encounters at a Reggio-Emilia-inspired preschool in Sweden to open wonderful possibilities for researching in ways that are not restricted and confined but mobile, intra-active and multiple. Her ways of making sense of analysis as emergent and unpredictable and, at the same time, her analysis of the contribution of Deleuze and Barad takes the reader beyond the preschool to really understanding the ways we are multiple, mobile, intra-active and always becoming. This analysis makes a significant contribution to the work of preschools in particular and also to all researchers whose desire is to explore the not-yet-known.

Davies’ exploration of emergent listening inspires the reader to really think about listening as relational, and as taking us to new and creative places. She uses stories/data from a collective biography workshop, a Reggio-Emilia-inspired preschool and from her own local community to analyse the complexity of being-knowing-becoming. This analysis really takes theorising on amazing lines of flight that can inform thinking, policy and practice about learning for years to come. As well, she teases out ideas about anger, going almost beyond post-structuralism. Her use of Deleuze, Buddhist thought and Barad demonstrates how using a diffractive analysis might take us as practitioners and researchers to amazing places. Then her analysis of art-making with a young girl in her neighbourhood takes the reader into the personal and everyday and shows how this ‘data’ can be used to extend thinking through diffractive analyses. The moments of ‘ah-ha’ are multiple, as new ways of making sense of data, including the everyday, are made possible. The book, finally, takes the reader to a new narrative for a well-loved story, bringing together all the new ideas in the book about agency, meaning-making, ethics, community, listening to children – and experimenting. In reading this book I am excited by the future possibilities of listening to children, learning and researching – all at the same time. It is, for the reader, a wonderful beginning.”

Dr Cath Laws
Australian Catholic University, Australia



    Davies, B. (2019) New Lives in an Old Land. Re-turning to the Colonization of New South Wales through the Stories of my Parents and their Ancestors. Sydney: Ornithorhynchus Paradoxus Press.


    Davies, B. (2014) Listening to Children. Being and Becoming. London: Routledge.


    Davies, B. (2014) The Fairy Who Wouldn’t Fly. Canberra: National Library of Australia.


Somerville, M., Davies, B., Power, K., Gannon, S., and de Carteret, P. (2011) Place Pedagogy and Change. Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

Wyatt, J., Gale, K., Gannon, S. and Davies, B. (2011) Deleuze and collaborative writing: An immanent plane of composition. (pp. 1-162) New York: Peter Lang

Davies, B. and Gannon, S. (2009) Pedagogical Encounters (pp. 1-162). New York: Peter Lang

Davies, B. (Ed.). (2008). Judith Butler in Conversation: Analysing the texts and talk of everyday life. (1-273). New York: Routledge.

Davies, B. & Gannon, S. (2006). Doing Collective Biography (pp. 1-200). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Davies, B. & Kasama, H. (2004). Gender in Japanese Preschools. Frogs and Snails and Feminist Tales in Japan (pp. 1-145). NJ: Cresskill, Hampton Press.

Davies, B. (2000). A Body of Writing 1989-1999 (pp. 1-191). Walnut Creek: Alta Mira Press. 

Chapter 5, Women's Subjectivity and Feminist Stories is translated as Kvinders subjektivitet og feministiske fortællinger. In Søndergaard, Dorte Marie (2007): Feministiske Tænkere. København: Hans Reitzels Forlag. (179-207) 

Davies, B. (2000). (In)scribing Body/landscape Relations (pp. 1-277). Walnut Creek: Alta Mira Press. 

Davies, B. (1996). Power/Knowledge/Desire: Changing School Organisation and Management Practices (pp. 1-259). Canberra: Department of Employment, Education and Youth Affairs. 

Davies, B. (1995) Gender bias in School Textbooks (pp. 1-95). London: Commonwealth Secretariat.

Davies, B. (1994). Poststructuralist Theory and Classroom Practice (pp. 1-127). Geelong: Deakin University Press. 

Davies, B. (1993). Shards of Glass. Children Reading and Writing Beyond Gendered Identities. Sydney (pp. 1-205). Sydney: Allen and Unwin.  2nd Edition (2003) NJ Cresskill: Hampton Press.         

Davies, B. (1989). Frogs and Snails and Feminist Tales. Preschool Children and Gender (pp. 1-152). Sydney: Allen and Unwin. 2nd Edition (2003) NJ Cresskill: Hampton Press.

    Chapter 1 translated intoHindi (2010) vol 1 of the Gender and Education Reader Vol 1, Nirantar Trust, New Delhi, 2006-229.

       Translated into Swedish by Christer Wallentin (2003), Hur flickor och pojkar goÖr kÖn.

                                         Stockholm, Liber (pp. 1-228).

       Translated into German by Das Argument (1992): Frosche und Schlangen und Feministiche

                                         Marchen . Zeitschrift fur Philosophie und Sozialwissenschaften (pp. 1-187).

      Translated into Spanish by Ediciones Cátedra (1994): Sapos y culebras y Cuentos

                                         feministas. Universitat de Valencia, Instituto de la Mujer (pp. 1-256)

       Chapter 1 translated into Swedish by Tilda Maria Forselius, Bli pojke? Bli flicka? Locus. 3/97, 17-31.

                  Received the Outstanding Book Award from the American Education Association.

                  Reprinted in part in S. Scott & S. Jackson (Eds) Gender: A Reader. London, Routledge


Davies, B. (1988). Gender, Equity and Early Childhood (pp. 1-42). Curriculum Development Centre: Canberra, Schools Commission. 

Davies, B. (1982). Life in the Classroom and Playground. The Accounts of Primary School Children (pp. 1-206). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. (Published in the Social Worlds of Childhood series, edited by Rom Harré). Reissued 2017 as part of the Routledge Library Editions: Sociology of Education

              Davies, B. (2019) Pondering the pond. Ethical encounters with children. In C. Schulte (Ed) Ethics and Research with Young Children: New Perspectives. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

             Davies, B. (2019) The play of seduction and desire in the making of a president. In Making Research Public in Troubled Times

                   Julianne Cheek and M. Francyne Huckaby (eds.) Myers Education Press.

             Davies, B. (2017) The entangled enlivening of being: feminist research strategies in the early years. In K. Smith, K. Alexander, and S.       

                   Campbell (Eds) Feminism(s) in Early Childhood. Using Feminist Theories in Research and Practice. Singapore: Springer. 65-74.

  Davies B. (2016) Gendering the subject in playful encounters. In Lynch, S., Pike, D., and a Beckett, C. (Eds) Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Play from Birth and Beyond. Singapore: Springer ISBN: 978-981-10-2641-6 (Print) 978-981-10-2643-0 (Online)

             Davies, B. (2016) Emergent Listening. In N.K. Denzin and M.D.Giardina (Eds) Qualitative Inquiry through a Critical Lens. Routledge:

                    New York. 73-84

   Davies, B. (2016). Ethics and the new materialism A brief genealogy of the ‘post’ philosophies in the social sciences. K. G. Nygren, A. Johansson, S. Nyhlén & E. Söderberg (Eds.) KO. Festskrift till Siv Falgren. Forum for Gender Studies Working paper series 2016: 10 Mid Sweden University Härnösand/Sundsvall/Östersund 111-132

Davies, B. (2014) Legitimation in post-critical, post-realist times, or whether legitimation? In A. D. Reid, E. P. Hart and M. A. Peters (eds.) A Companion to Research in Education. Springer. (pp. 443-450)


Davies, B. (2013) A feminist line of flight with the fairy who wouldn’t fly. In E. Sodergerg, M. Osterberg and B. Formark (Eds). Flicktion. Perspectiv pa flickan I fiktionen. Malmo: Universus Academic Press.


 Davies, B. (2013) Normalization and emotions. In K. G. Nygren and S. Fahlgren (Ed) Mobilizing Gender Research: Challenges and Strategies. Forum for Gender Studies Mid Sweden University working Papers 5 (pp. 21-30)


Davies, B. (2013) A feminist poststructural approach to environmental education research. In Robert B. Stevenson, Michael Brody, Justin Dillon, & Arjen E. J. Wals (Eds) International Handbook of Research on Environmental Education. (pp. 480-486) New York: Routledge with AERA


Davies, B. (2011) Listening. A radical pedagogy. In Fahlgren, S. (Ed). Challenging Gender: Normalization and Beyond. Forum for genusvetenskap: Mid-Sweden University, Sundsval


Davies, B. (2009). Life in Kings Cross. A play of voices. In A. Jackson & L. Mazzei (Eds.)Voice in Qualitative Inquiry: Challenging Conventional, Interpretive and Critical Conceptions in Qualitative Research. (pp. 197-220)New York: Routledge.

Davies, B. (2008) Practicing collective biography. In A. Hyle and J. Kauffman (Eds.)Dissecting the Mundane: International perspectives on memory-work. (pp. 58-74)University Press of America

Davies, B. (2008). Re-thinking ‘behaviour’ in terms of positioning and the ethics of responsibility. In A. M. Phelan & J. Sumsion (Eds.) Critical Readings in Teacher Education. Provoking Absences (pp. 173-186) Sense Publishers: Netherlands.

Davies, B (2009). (trans) K. Zabrodska, Jak znovu-promyslet 'chovani' v pojmech umistovani a etiky odpovednosti, Biograf

Davies, B. (2006). Identity, Abjection and Otherness: Creating the self, creating difference. In M. Arnot & M. Mac an Ghaill, The Routledge Falmer Reader in Gender and Education (pp. 72-90). London: Routledge. (previously published as Identity, abjection and otherness: creating the self, creating difference.  International Journal for Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood 2 (1): 58-80, 2004.) 

Davies, B. (2003). Working with primary school children to deconstruct gender. In C. Skelton & B. Francis (Eds.), Boys and Girls in the Primary Classroom (pp. 134-151). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Davies, B. (2003). Positioning the subject in body/landscape relations. In R. Harré & F. Moghaddam (Eds.), The Self and Others: Positioning Individuals and Groups in Personal, Political and Cultural Contexts (pp. 279-295). Greenwood: Praeger. 

Davies, B. (2003). Dissemination, or critique and transformation? In B. Francis & C. Hughes (Eds.), Disseminating Qualitative Research. (pp. 110-122). Maidenhead: Open University Press.