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Curriculum, Teaching  & Learning
Fikile Nxumalo

Fikile Nxumalo
Assistant Professor

phone: 416-978-6216

Department: Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

Research Overview

My scholarship focuses on reconceptualizing and resituating place-based and environmental education within current times of ecological precarity. I am interested in curricular and pedagogical possibilities for disrupting anti-black and settler colonial educational frames that erase and/or enact deficit constructions of Black and Indigenous (and their intersections) childhoods, knowledges and place relations. As an interdisciplinary scholar, my research brings together early childhood education, childhood studies, Indigenous and Black studies, children's geographies, and the environmental humanities & sciences. My current research project is a participatory inquiry focused on developing decolonial water pedagogies with educators, children and youth within the context of Central Texas. More information about my research can be found at and

I am particularly interested in working with students with an interest in one or more of: Indigenous feminisms and knowledges, Black feminisms, Black and Indigenous geographies, post-qualitative research approaches, and interrogations of anti-blackness and colonialisms in education. I am also interested in working with students who are interested in place-based education, climate change education and environmental education in early childhood and beyond, particularly in relationship with climate justice, settler colonialism, and anti-blackness. I would also like to work with students with an interest in working with pedagogical documentation as a research methodology, critical teaching resource, and support for inquiry-based curriculum.

Academic History

Ph.D. (May 2015) Early Childhood Education, University of Victoria, BC
M.Sc. Simon Fraser University, BC
B.Sc. Hon. Trent University, ON

Teaching Overview

CTL7009H: Anti-Discriminatory Education
CTL5050H: Decolonial & Anti-Racist Environmental Education

Postmodern Analytical Methods (Graduate, Cross-listed with Women & Gender Studies & Native American & Indigenous Studies (NAIS)
Environmental Education for Young Children (Graduate, Cross-listed with NAIS)
Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods (Graduate)
Early Childhood Education Programs (Graduate)
Early Childhood Education Programs (Undergraduate)
Early Childhood Education Program Development (Undergraduate)

Race and Racialization in Early Childhood Education (Undergraduate)
Child Growth and Development (Undergraduate)
Inclusive Practices in Early Childhood Education (Undergraduate)
Applied Theory: Advanced Early Childhood Education Practicum (field supervisor)
Inclusive Practice: Advanced Early Childhood Education Practicum (field supervisor)

Issues of Assessment & Evaluation with Children and Families (Undergraduate)
Leadership, Advocacy & Policy for the Early Years (Undergraduate)
Practices for Young Children & Families: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (Undergraduate)
Child and Adolescent Development in Context (Graduate - co-Instructor)

Representative Publications

Nxumalo, F., Diaz-Diaz, C., Semenec, P. (2020). Interview with Fikile Nxumalo, In C. Diaz-Diaz and P. Semenec (Eds.), Posthumanist and new materialist methodologies (pp. 195-203). New York: Springer.
Nxumalo, F., Cook, C., Rubin, J.C., Hendrix Soto, A.E., Cedillo, S. , & Scott, M.R. (2020). Staying with the trouble: grapplings with the more-than-human in a qualitative inquiry course. Qualitative Inquiry. 26(1), 24–35.
Nxumalo, F. & Berg, L. (2020). Conversations on climate change pedagogies in a Central Texas kindergarten classroom. In J A. Henderson & A. Drewes (Eds), Teaching climate change in the United States (pp. 44-57). New York: Routledge. 
Nxumalo, F. & Villaneuva, M. (2019). (Re)storying water: Decolonial pedagogies of relational affect with young children. International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education. 
Nxumalo, F. & ross, k.m. (2019). Envisioning Black space in environmental education for young children. Race, Ethnicity & Education, 22(4,)502-524. 
Nxumalo, F. (2019). Decolonizing place in early childhood education. New York: Routledge. 
Nxumalo, F. & Brown, C.P. (Eds.) (2019). Disrupting and countering deficits in early childhood education. New York: Routledge.
Nxumalo, F. & Adair, J.K. (2019). Social justice and equity in early childhood education. In C.P. Brown, M. McMullen, & N. File (Eds.), Handbook of Early Childhood Care and Education. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley Blackwell Publishing. pp. 661-682. 
Nxumalo, F. (2019). Resisting racial capitalist formations in early childhood education. In F. Nxumalo & C.P. Brown (Eds.). Disrupting and countering deficits in early childhood education. New York: Routledge Education.
Nxumalo, F. (2019). Presencing: Decolonial attunements to children’s place relations. In. D. Hodgins (Ed.). Feminist Research for 21st-Century Childhoods: Common Worlds Methods. London: Bloomsbury.
Nxumalo, F. (2018). Situating Indigenous and Black childhoods in the Anthropocene. In A. Cutter-Mackenzie, K. Malone, & E. Barratt Hacking, (Eds) International Research Handbook on ChildhoodNature: Assemblages of Childhood and Nature Research. New York: Springer. pp. 1-22. DOI:
Nxumalo, F. & Rubin, J.C. (2018). Encountering waste landscapes: more-than-human place literacies in early childhood education. In C.R. Kuby, K. Spector & J. Johnson Thiel (Eds.), Posthumanism and Literacy Education: Knowing/Being/Doing Literacies (pp. 201-213). New York: Routledge.
Nxumalo, F., Delgado, C., & Nelson, N. (2018). Pedagogical gatherings in early childhood education: Mapping interferences in emergent curriculum. Curriculum Inquiry, 48(4), 433-453.
Nxumalo, F. (2018). Stories for living on a damaged planet: Environmental education in a preschool classroom. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 16(2), 148–159.
Nxumalo, F. & Cedillo, S. (2017). Decolonizing ‘place’ in early childhood studies: Thinking with Indigenous onto-epistemologies and Black feminist geographies. Global Studies of Childhood, 7(2), 99-112.
Nxumalo, F. (2017). Geotheorizing mountain-child relations within anthropogenic inheritances. Children’s Geographies, 15(5), 558-569.
Nxumalo, F. (2016). Storying practices of witnessing: Refiguring quality in everyday pedagogical encounters. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 17(1) 39-53.
Nxumalo, F. (2016). Towards ‘refiguring presences’ as an anti-colonial orientation to research in early childhood studies.  International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 29(5), 640-654. 
Nxumalo, F. (2016). Touching place in childhood studies: Situated encounters with a community garden. In H.Skott-Myhre, V. Pacini-Ketchabaw, & K. Skott-Myhre (Eds.), Youth work, early education, and psychology: Liminal encounters (pp. 131-158). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Nxumalo, F. (2015). Forest stories:  Restorying encounters with ‘natural’ places in early childhood education. In V. Pacini-Ketchabaw, & A. Taylor (Eds), Unsettling the colonial places and spaces of early childhood education (pp. 21-42). New York: Routledge.
Pacini-Ketchabaw, V. & Nxumalo, F.  (2015). Nature/culture divides in a childcare centre. Environmental Humanities, 7, 151-168.
Pacini-Ketchabaw, V., Nxumalo, F., & Rowan, C. (2014). Researching neoliberal and neocolonial assemblages in early childhood education. International Review of Qualitative Research, 7(1), 39–57.
Pacini-Ketchabaw, V., Nxumalo, F., & Kocher, L.  et al. (2014).  Journeys: Reconceptualizing early childhood practices through pedagogical narration. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Nxumalo, F. (2012). Unsettling representational practices: Inhabiting relational becomings in early childhood education. Child & Youth Services Journal, 33(3-4), 281-302.
Nxumalo, F., Pacini-Ketchabaw, V., & Rowan, C. (2011). Lunch time at the child care centre: neoliberal assemblages in early childhood education. Journal of Pedagogy, 2(2),195-223.
Research Grants and Contracts

Principal Investigator: Climate Change Education in the Global South: Developing Climate Justice Pedagogies with Young Children in a rural eSwatini Community. SSHRC IDG [2020-2022]

Principal Investigator: Learning with Place: Exploring Environmental Justice with Marginalized Young Children. University of Toronto Connaught New Researcher Award. [2020-2022]

Co-applicant: Climate Action Network: Exploring Climate Change Pedagogies with Children. SSHRC Partnership Development Grant. 2017-2020].

Co-Principal Investigator: Texas Water Stories. Funded by UT Austin Planet Texas 2050, a UT Austin Bridging Barriers Research Initiative.

Honours and Awards

2019: Emerging Scholar Award: AERA Critical Perspectives on Early Childhood Education SIG.

2018-2019: Invited Fellow: Public Voices Thought Leadership; University of Texas at Austin Op-Ed Project.

2018: Dean's Fellowship: College of Education. The University of Texas at Austin.

2017-2018: Invited Fellow: Center for Women and Gender Studies; University of Texas at Austin.

2017: Dissertation Award: AERA Critical Perspectives on Early Childhood Education SIG. 2017.

2016: Summer Research Fellowship: University of Texas at Austin.

2012: UVic Centre for EC Research and Policy Award for Exemplary Research in Early Childhood.

Professional Activities

Section Co-Chair (AERA 2017, 2018): Division B Curriculum Studies: Section 5 - Place and Praxis: The Places of Curriculum.

Chair (AERA 2018): Dissertation Award Committee; AERA Critical Perspectives on ECE SIG

South African National Research Foundation

2018-2020 Advisory Committee Member: Provincial Centre of Excellence for Early Years and Child Care (Ontario).

Feminist Thought in Childhood Research - Book Series

Journal of Childhood Studies

Matter: Journal of New Materialist Research (Scientific Committee)

Curriculum Inquiry; Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood; Journal of Early Childhood Research; Environmental Education Research; Qualitative Inquiry; Emotion, Space & Society; Journal of Pedagogy; Gender, Place & Culture; Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education (Curriculum Studies); Discourse: The Cultural Politics of Education (special issue); Environmental Humanities (special issue); Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education (special issue).

Other Information


keynote: (2019, December). 10th Annual New Materialisms Conference, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

plenary: (2019, November) Republic of Childhood Youth Forum, Ottawa, Ontario

plenary: (2018, October) North American Association for Environmental Education Annual Research Conference, Spokane, Washington.

keynote: (2018, September). Pedagogies on a Damaged Planet Conference, University of Cape Town, South Africa.