Afterword: Children Ruin Everything

Anderson, Gary (2018) Afterword: Children Ruin Everything. Performance Research, 23 (1). pp. 117-124. ISSN 1352-8165

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This is a provocation. It is an adult’s attempt to argue for more agency for children, paradoxical though that may be. There is an urgent personal-political need for me, as a father of four boys with a critical arts practice (The Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home), to understand children beyond the epistemological limits of ‘development’. This provocation consists in the suggestion that all adults need to undertake a radical and practical re-evaluation of what children actually are in the here and now. Children, my own children in particular, are robbed of much of their agency because of an unthinking reproduction of repressive ontologies born out of ‘development’. I recognise recognize this in my own parenting. For example, I call them ‘children’ and treat them as such as if one day I will start calling them ‘adults’ with full citizens’ rights. This re-evaluation will not happen overnight, so in the meantime it is necessary for me to experiment with other kinds of parenting and ontological positioning. For the afterwordAfterword, I experiment with a series of imagined reversals of power relations between a father and his children. In what follows, the children problematise problematize the ontological claims made by adults about children and in doing so enact newly established power relations where the categories of child and adult hopefully fall into disrepute. My aim here is to do some applied philosophy via four short performances on my children in order to re-evaluate not only the idea of children, but to provide an opportunity for adult readers of these pages to rethink children’s agency. The preceding pages of this journal have challenged the category of children in several ways, for this provocation I want to explode the category altogether. So, as a last-ditch effort what follows is a playful, but serious, account of imagined interactions between a father and his four sons, all invented, and all without their permission. I wish to speculatively determine how children, in ruining everything for their father are always- already in the process of building fresh, radically immanent understandings of agency out of the rubble of outdated ontologies. Children do this a lot. In other words, they ruin everything, thankfully.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Performance Research on [date TBC], available online:
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > Drama,Dance and Performance Studies (up to 30th April 2018)
Depositing User: Gary Anderson
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2018 14:21
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2020 15:32

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