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A doubly articulated cartography of children


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Article in Children s Geographies January 2016


DOI: 10.1080/14733285.2015.1127325

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Children's Geographies

ISSN: 1473-3285 (Print) 1473-3277 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cchg20

A doubly articulated cartography of children and


media as affective networks-at-play

Giorgio Hadi Curti, Stuart C. Aitken & Fernando J. Bosco

To cite this article: Giorgio Hadi Curti, Stuart C. Aitken & Fernando J. Bosco (2016): A doubly
articulated cartography of children and media as affective networks-at-play, Children's
Geographies

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Childrens Geographies, 2016
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14733285.2015.1127325

A doubly articulated cartography of children and media as affective


networks-at-play
Giorgio Hadi Curti*, Stuart C. Aitken and Fernando J. Bosco

Department of Geography, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Dr., San Diego, CA 92182, USA
Downloaded by [American Red Cross], [Giorgio Curti] at 09:46 14 January 2016

(Received 30 January 2015; accepted 3 November 2015)

With increasing concerns surrounding childrens agency and questions of the impacts of
globalizing media, it is imperative to critically explore how interactions with media objects
become part of childrens social lives. Working through Deleuzian-Guattarian ideas of what
bodies are and do, we approach childmedia interactions as horizontal components of
becoming. Through this, we argue that media objects can be important social elements of
the emergent nature of affective networks-at-play and illustrate this by creatively working
through two narratives of media object relations: one, drawn from the actions of Tomohiro
Kato on 8 June 2008 in Tokyo, Japan; the other, of a child named Juana and her interactions
with the Latin American version of the Disney educational show Manny a la Obra (Handy
Manny). In engaging childmedia relationships as mutual and afrmative elements in
becoming, we challenge strict dichotomous understandings of children and adults while
addressing debates surrounding childrens agency.
Keywords: media; affect; agency; networks; becoming; Deleuze and Guattari

Becoming produces nothing other than itself.


We fall into a false alternative if we say that
you either imitate or you are. What is real is
the becoming itself, not the supposedly xed
terms through which that which becomes passes. (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 238)

Imagine the scene: a Japanese video game set in central Tokyo. Or perhaps an anime. No, lets say
a manga. For our purposes here, the particular media form does not matter. Beads of sweat pepper
the forehead of an intense young man. He is prowling through the streets of Akihabara, his head
adorned with a blood-red bandana wrapped tightly around his long, spiked, jet black hair. He
drives his truck fast; but with precision through narrow lanes. He comes upon his targets.
They are gathered around the front of one of the citys innumerable video and gaming stores.
Now is his chance. With gritted teeth and veins protruding from beating temples he guns his
truck, taking out four assassins before hitting a kiosk. Deftly rolling out of the trucks open
door, he unsheathes his shimmering blade, acrobatically leaps through the air, twists, tucks and
dispatches his next ve victims before they can even consciously register his presence. His

*Corresponding author. Email: curti@rohan.sdsu.edu

2016 Taylor & Francis


2 G. H. Curti et al.

beautifully balanced reactions and swift blade work takes care of six more, blood spewing from
his victims jugulars like a celebratory reworks display. He slowly arises from his crouch while
taking survey of the mayhem. Sirens roar in the distance. The police are on their way. He will soon
be arrested, but he has had his revenge. With this scene in mind, let us now turn to Tokyos Aki-
habara district. The date: 8 June 2008.
It is a little half past noon Japan Standard Time and Akihabaras streets are crowded with ped-
estrians. It is a Sunday, the day of pedestrian paradise, when several major roads are closed to
vehicular trafc. Suddenly, 25 year-old Tomohiro Kato purposely and with pre-meditation drives
his two-ton rental truck into crowds of unsuspecting people. After his truck comes to a stop, he
steps out of the vehicle and begins stabbing his already wounded and impaired victims with a
dagger. In the end, 7 people are killed, 11 injured. As news spread of Katos attack, rumors
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and rumblings of the inuence of different forms of media on his violent actions soon followed.
Reports of Kato drawing a role-playing video game character in a high school yearbook were
included in accounts of the attack, as were descriptions of him as an anime enthusiast (Norrie
2008). At least two publications referred to him either as the comic book killer (Norrie 2008)
or a disturbed comic-book fan (AFP 2008). One young on-scene observer reportedly remarked,
Im afraid he did this because he played video games. But he should have known that in life, you
cant hit the restart button (Norrie 2008). Though the location of the attack undoubtedly played a
role in these suspicions Akihabara is a well-known electronics district with many shops devoted
to manga, anime and video games these accounts are an example of how the consumptive
affects and effects of many forms of media are commonly characterized as corrupting, negative
and/or degenerative; that is, as harmful or dangerous.
In the months, days, hours, and minutes leading up to the attack, Kato narrativized his
growing anger and resentment through various blog postings on an Internet website: If Im
allowed to follow my desire, Id slam a truck into pedestrians on a vehicle-free, busy shopping
street, although I will not do such a thing There are people brimming with condence
although they have no reasons to feel that way. Frankly, I feel like killing them Im in a
mood to kill people regardless of who they are Ive heard that you can have a chance at
having a romance until youre 25, but Ive passed that age. Admittedly, ugly guys do not have
the right to enjoy any romance I could never have a girlfriend because I cant control
myself. Happiness is a dream out of my reach (JTO 11 June 2008). At 5:21 am on the
morning of the attack Kato posted via cell phone: Sleepy. Will drive into [the crowd] and, if
the car becomes useless, I will use a knife. His nal posting came at 11:45 am, less than an
hour before the violence unfolded: Reached Akihabara. Its the day of pedestrians paradise,
isnt it? Just minutes left now (TO 9 June 2008). The irony of Katos story and the popular treat-
ments which soon followed is that it was not harmful or degenerative forces of manga, video
games or the Internet which fueled his words and actions. Rather, as Kato later revealed to the
police, his media engagements were attempts to get help, a desire to connect,1 a plea to others
to help him transform his striated bodily trajectories: I wanted someone to call the authorities
and stop me (Reuters 12 June 2008).
Many of the popular accounts of the violent events that transpired in Akihabara on that
fateful summer day were quick to representationally conate, attach, and impose a causal
relationship of the violent imagery and narratives of media like those imagined in the
opening paragraph of this paper to the content of Katos thoughts and actions. The potentially
active, positive, and generative affects and effects of media that Kato longed for were almost
entirely dismissed or completely ignored. Jonathan Bignell (2000, 133) points out that such
common discursive practices surrounding media necessarily tie actions such as Katos to child-
hood and its supposed passivity to media objects: From these various discursive positions, the
adult is the product of the child, and the child is the product of the toy [or media object].
Childrens Geographies 3

Minna Ruckenstein (2013) conversely argues that technology is a spatial extension of childhood,
which positions on-line sociality (from toy worlds to online communities) as a corporate value,
and that adults can only navigate emerging techno-worlds by understanding how they help
produce everyday spaces for children.
While we do agree that different forms of media can and do have powerful effects on both
children and adults, in this work we seek to move away from (i) prominent discourses focusing
on negative aspects of childmedia interactions, such as those surrounding Kato, and (ii) the
linear and essentialized developmental understandings of the child pointed to by Bignell and
Ruckenstein. As part of this shift, we adopt alternative sensibilities and provide creative narratives
that move away from representational understandings of children as passive beings and/or inten-
tional subjects (see Bignell 2000), to an understanding of how childrens subjectivation, the
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relation to oneself, continues to create itself, but by transforming itself and changing its nature
(Deleuze 1988a, 104).
Toward this end, and in what follows, we work through and play with Deleuzian-Guattarian
ideas and concepts of what (different) bodies are and do coupled with understandings of children
as agents and purveyors of possibility and difference. Flowing through and bundling together
these ideas and concepts is a continual interplay of the open and closed: the smooth and striated,
the molecular and molar, the de- and re-territorialized the very mo(ve)ments of becoming that
are more mixed than oppositional and which demonstrate that the procedure of becoming is
entirely immanent. In other words, it operates on the same plane as its objects (Massumi
1992, 98). In and through procedures of becoming, meaning, representation, and identity
become secondary to speeds, motions, intensities, trajectories, and capacities of bodies and
a body can be anything (Deleuze 1988b, 127), from sounds to ideas to images to social
collectivities to any media object or form. Through the convergence and divergence of different
heterogeneous bodies, space continually presents ssures and crevices of and for political open-
ness even if this politics is microscopic or almost imperceptible and difference is always pro-
duced through a relational emergence including when a given emerging relationality is part of
inorganic life, or things that have a lived experience because they are perceptions and affec-
tions (Deleuze and Guattari 1994, 154).
Through these Deleuzian-Guattarian ideas and concepts of openness and closure that exist
always and only in life as divergent and convergent processes, we argue that different media
forms are opened up and can be understood not merely as objects entangled with(in) childrens
agency, but as interactive and forceful elements of a globalizing social themselves through the
generation and production of potential and emergent intellectual and affective social networks.
We illustrate this by creatively working through a narrative of a child named Juana and her inter-
actions with the Latin American version of the Disney educational show Manny a la Obra (Handy
Manny), and by returning to the story of Tomohiro Kato presented above to explain how his
actions counter common representations and characterizations of children and childhood. In enga-
ging questions of children and childhood in this way, we challenge strict dichotomous understand-
ings and treatments of children and adults while simultaneously addressing current concerns and
issues surrounding childrens agency.

Be(com)ing children
Increased concerns surrounding childrens agency (Kjrholt 2005; Skelton 2007; Bosco 2010;
Curti and Moreno 2010) and questions of the impacts of globalizing media (Buckingham
2000, 2008) highlight the importance of exploring how consumption of and interactions with
media objects contribute to, inform, transform, and become part of childrens social lives. This
engagement with media objects holds particular relevance in light of recent work that has stressed
4 G. H. Curti et al.

the importance of understanding the social as more-than-human (Whatmore 2002; Latour 2007;
Curti and Moreno 2010) and objects and technologies as more than just material and virtual
(Bennett 2010; Nieuwenhuys 2011). For this reason, we approach childmedia interactions not
simply as relations of cultural or social meaning, construction or discourse that is, as represen-
tation but as horizontally interactive components of becoming. It is our position that it is less
helpful to move toward better or more accurate representations of what children are (for
example, see Jones 2008) than to explore and experiment with what constructed representations
of children do; that is to say, what they imply, perform, and accomplish. To remain within the
realm of representation without engaging its material and embodied practices is to risk getting
lost in a maze of endless signication or arbitrary denotation. The challenge here is not to decon-
struct thought, but to explore its (parallel) content, actions, and effects.
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In the last two centuries, Western thought has centered on a portrayal of children as an embo-
diment of primitive or wild nature (Valentine 1996; Aitken 2001, 33). Whether this assumed
nature exudes innocence or danger has been a matter of disagreement (Aitken 2001; Rautio
2013). Regardless of position, acceptance of the underlying assumption of children-as-nature
has failed to grant young people forceful agency over their own direction and drives, including
the networks, places, and spaces of their creation. As natural beings in opposition to the
active and superior organism of Man, interiority and reason, children are implicitly cast as
inferior others enslaved to and by the passivity of the body and emotion. Whether through dis-
cipline or encouragement, children must be made responsible, made rational: made adult. Though
unintentional, this oppositional difference works to homogenize those categorized and dened as
children into the already established world of the adult; the world of the same (see Massumi 1992,
90). If the power, agency and difference of children are to be honestly explored, then, it is vital to
move discussions away from traditional limitations and rigid dichotomies of the child/adult binary
and all that they suggest, and material practices, emotions, and affects must be explicitly opened
up and politicized (cf. Rautio 2013).

To become
Becoming is not a resemblance of or movement (in)to what already is a becoming-the-same
but a becoming-other, a becoming-different, a becoming-new. As opposed to traditional notions
of growing up, becoming should not be understood as a temporal process of arboreal stages, as if
climbing a tree of time; it is not made up of historical or temporal mo(ve)ments from childhood to
adulthood, beginning to end. Rather, becoming is a milieu that is more geographical than his-
torical (Deleuze and Guattari 1994, 110), a rhizomatic process of deterritorializations and reter-
ritorializations that cannot be separated from the body and its external relations, affections, and
creations.
Massumi (1992, 102) is at pains to explain that representations of the body (and particularly,
for our purposes, the child at home) are static and misleading in the sense that such images often
do not portray the multiplicities that comprise encounters and relations with heterogeneous others,
including the non-human and more-than-human. To the degree that affect is always transmitted
between and through bodies, becoming-other emerges out of pre-existing contexts, conditions,
and valences; but it is about movements that are never molar or singular processes. Massumi
(1992, 103) goes on to observe that becoming-other is a directional movement away from
molarity, a line of ight simultaneously without pre-determined trajectory that emerges in conver-
gence (at or with any particular mo[ve]ment, a throwntogetherness, Massey 2005) between and
among different lines of ight; a joining of bodies of counteractualization to what already is.
These lines of ight are not pre-scribed nor are they exhaustive; if they were then they would
not be about becoming-other but rather about becoming-the-same.
Childrens Geographies 5

Because our explorations here concern becomings-other of the child, and more precisely
playing with what Deleuze and Guattari (1986, 79) describe as a becoming-child of the adult
taking place in the adult, [and] a becoming-adult of the child taking place in the child, it is
not in-depth descriptions or even particular orbits that we are concerned with as Massumis
observations well illustrate, becomings themselves are difcult to describe but the ways in
which spaces, networks and communities of such becomings may open and emerge through
different bodily interactions and relations. Because of this, we feel that it is necessary to begin
to take on questions of children and childhood, youth and adulthood, their capacities to affect
and be affected, and what they are and what they do, through horizontal relations of the body
rather than vertical sequences or pre-established categories of time; in other words, we must
approach child and adult not as distinct or oppositional categories, but as internal and external
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functions of always embodied doings (see Curti and Moreno 2010).

What do children do?


Children never stop talking, Deleuze (1997, 61) tells us, about what they are doing or trying to
do: exploring milieus, by means of dynamic trajectories, and drawing up maps of them. The
maps drawn by children (drawing should be taken in its broadest sense) contrast those of
adults; they are playful lines rather than marked tracings:

What distinguishes the map from the tracing is that it is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in
contact with the real. The map does not reproduce an unconscious closed in upon itself; it constructs
the unconscious The map is open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, revers-
ible, susceptible to constant modication. (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 12)

In their closure, adult tracings work to describe a world that is, while childrens mappings are
playful engagements creating worlds to (be)come; they are imaginative, experimental, and
open in ways that differ from adults play, engagement, and mapping, which is stultied, pre-
scribed, and exhausted.
This basis of play as a different capacity or capacitor to affect and be affected by the world is a
quality Walter Benjamin well understood in children: The child can do absolutely what the
adult cannot: recognise the new once again (Benjamin, cited in Buse et al. 2005, 54). For
Benjamin, childrens play not only challenges capitalist norms by reclaim[ing] the debris of
history to reassemble its fragments in new and radically different ways, but reclaims the
debris of geography to do the same (Katz 2004, 258). Childrens play is mimetic not just in
the sense of copying something but also as a radical ash of inspiration and creativity when
materials are performed or used differently (Aitken 2014, 162163). Importantly, Benjamin
recognized that such newness is accessible to and realizable by the revolutionary adult (Buck-
Morss 1991; Benjamin 1996), but only when she or he detaches from the world of adult the
world of the same through experiences and forces of difference: differentiated movements, dif-
ferentiated relations, differentiated connections, differentiated consciousness, differentiated play
with the world differences of the becoming-child of the adult; a double articulation.2

Child/adult: double articulation


As double articulation, child and adult are forces internal and external; foldings and unfoldings
both within bodies and between bodies; movements both of singularities and between singular-
ities. They are double pincers, double binds the strict contiguity of two faraway segments
(Deleuze and Guattari 1986, 79) which are both imposed and take ight from within and
without; monist entanglements between the pleats of matter, and the folds in the soul
(Deleuze 1993, 3).
6 G. H. Curti et al.

The child as rst articulation is supple, more molecular, and merely ordered; the adult as
second articulation:

is more rigid, molar, and organized. Although the rst articulation [child] is not lacking in systematic
interactions, it is in the second articulation [adult] in particular that phenomena constituting an over-
coding are produced, phenomena of centering, unication, totalization, integration, hierarchization,
and nalization. (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 41)

Because there is no prescription of standard rules attached to the child in double articulation,
only actions and creations of difference, this characterization should not be understood as a dis-
cursive construction of the child [that] all too easily slips back into a liberal valuation of crea-
tive play and uninhibited freedom [and which risks] that the child becomes a normative
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category (Bignell 2000, 119). Neither should it be understood as an arbitrary nor culturally
saturated depiction of child/adult functions, but how child and adult as double articulation do
function.
As the double pincers of articulation come from within and without, they are enmeshed in the
four-folds of Foucault-Deleuze (Deleuze 1988a, 104): (i) the folding of bodies or desire; or the
material relations between bodies and space; (ii) the folding of forces in relation to oneself;
that is, how power is bent back by bodies to produce and act as a self; a self-regulation or govern-
ance; (iii) knowledge and truth enfolding and enfolded by being, or how knowledge and discourse
is taken up and absorbed by the body in different cultural/historical/philosophical movements;
and (iv) the ultimate fold of the outside (Deleuze 1988a, 104); or the folding in of that
which lies outside of discourse and thought, and which forms an indeterminate space of potential
becoming (Malins, Fitzgerald, and Threadgold 2006, 511). Together, these folds form a stratum
the interior and exterior are both interior to the stratum (Buchanan 2004, 9) which are always
implicated in and involved with other (sub)strata (e.g., gender, family, school, society, nation,
etc.).
As these strata are caught-up in the socio-historico-spatio circumstances of the rst three
folds,3 ideas, practices and spaces composing child and adult become relatively striated, sedi-
mented and stratied; and within and between (geo)morphological (de- and re-)stratications
each stratum is double and exhibits phenomena constitutive of double articulation
(Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 40). Therefore, as the fourth fold of the outside takes ight,
there is no child-like adult, only becoming-child; there is no child beyond her years, only
becoming-adult:

Although the distinction between the two articulations is real, it is also arbitrary inasmuch as the actual
order of the articulations remains fully reversible. It makes no sense or, rather, it is sheerly a matter
of perspective to determine which articulation comes rst because the process is not stepped .One
articulation does not lead to the next, rather the two occur at the same time in a relationship of mutual
presupposition. (Buchanan 2004, 67)

In this context, cultural and discursive representations, conations and constructions of children
as inextricable agents of the wild take on different properties.
The child is the Earth the embodiment of the wild no longer in metaphor, but in function
and action (cf. Rautio 2013; Linzmayer and Halpenny 2014). Like the Earth, the child is perme-
ated by unformed, unstable matters, by ows in all directions, by free intensities or nomadic
singularities, by mad or transitory particles (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 40). The Earth-child
is caught-up in inevitable phenomenon that is benecial in many respects and unfortunate in
many others: stratication (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 40). The adult is a stratifying agent;
Man, interiority, reason: Strata.
Childrens Geographies 7

Strata are Layers, Belts. They consist of giving form to matters, of imprisoning intensities or
locking singularities into systems of resonance and redundancy, of producing upon the body of
the [child] molecules large and small and organizing them into molar aggregates. (Deleuze and
Guattari 1987, 40)

As becoming is always bodily thought, these molar aggregates these methodologies of being
work to disrupt and arrest the thought (and thus the body) of the Earth-child by the urge to restra-
tify and reterritorialize thought-in-becoming (Massumi 1992, 98) on transcendent or eternal
ideas, forms and/or models of what composes the Human or Person.4 The Strata-adult,
while providing the Earth-child with advantageous and necessary stratication, also presents arti-
cial limits to the Earth-childs experimentation in becoming: To think is to experiment, but
experimentation is always that which is in the process of coming about the new, remarkable,
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and interesting that replace the appearance of truth and are more demanding than it is
(Deleuze and Guattari 1994, 111). What experimental roles can and do media objects play
in and through such processes?

Afrming media
Anthropologist Mizuko Ito (2008) and comic-book writer and author Gerard Jones (2002) each
highlight the afrmative potentials of different media forms in their respective studies on the
social life of the Japanese manga and anime series Yugioh and the impacts of violent media on
children. In approaching Yugioh through its different mixed-media forms anime, video
games, manga, toys, trading-cards, etc. and violent media through what it does to and for chil-
dren (as opposed to what it literally portrays), Ito and Jones present important narratives coun-
tering those applied to Tomohiro Kato in the opening of this paper. Both Itos and Jones work
serve as important challenges to dominant treatments and portrayals of the interactions
between media and children, and in at least three ways point to how media objects are involved
with both the becoming-adult of the child and the becoming-child of the adult: (i) they illustrate
how, through the use and consumption of different media, children are responsible and active
agents; (ii) related to the rst point, they reveal positive and generative effects of different and
differentiating media forms; and (iii) in agreement with Benjamin, they point to how childhood
is where culture is both produced but also opened to the possibility of difference (Bignell 2000,
123). Ito (2008, 303) states:

This [media-mix] is a networked world of expanding reference that destabilizes the prior orthodoxy of
childrens media. Rather than spoon-feed stabilized narratives and heroes to a supposedly passive
audience, Pokemon and Yugioh invite children to collect, acquire, recombine, and enact stories
within their peer networks, trading cards, information, and monsters These media mixes challenge
our ideas of childhood agency and the passivity of media consumption, highlighting the active, entre-
preneurial, and technological aspects of childrens engagement with popular culture.

Taking a more psychological (and perhaps more unconventional) perspective, Jones (2002, 6)
observes that although young people benet from reading about super-heroes in comic books,
movies and video games, there are also troubling examples of young people acting out on the c-
tionalized stories and needing adult help to internalize them in healthy ways. Nonetheless, Jones
argues that the overwhelming evidence suggests that the fantasies imbued in these materials help
young people face anxieties and an often chaotic and sometime violent world with calm and
strength. Importantly, while both Ito and Jones underscore benecial aspects to media object con-
sumption and describe childrens active and generative engagements with them in different ways,
Itos analysis is particularly insightful for our purposes here as it is not limited to young people,
8 G. H. Curti et al.

but also explores the effects of mixed-media objects across different (conventionally) understood
age and gender lines.
Ito highlights how engagements with Yugioh by diverse groups work to differently challenge
capitalistic norms and common social understandings, practices and performances of identity,
thought and behavior. In this way, Ito implicitly, yet importantly, further opens up Benjamins
understanding of childrens challenge to capitalistic consumption and production (as elaborated
by Ruckenstein 2013) through revolutionary action through play beyond the genetic stage or pre-
guration of the child:

Childhood play is becoming fetishized and commodied as a site of resistance to adult values of labor,
discipline, and diligence, as well as a site for alternative forms of symbolic value and economic
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exchange. It becomes a receptacle for our dissatisfactions about rationalized labor, educational
achievement, stabilized economic value, and mainstream status hierarchies. For adults, these
images of childhood are a colorful escape from the dulling rhythms of salaried work and household
labor. (Ito 2008, 314)

By engaging with Yugiohs effects on both children and adults, Ito offers brief glimpses into how
media objects may work doubly as both stratifying mechanisms of a becoming-adult of the child
Children develop certain conventions of play Rules are negotiated locally, among peers, who
acquire knowledge through extended peer networks, television, and manga (Ito 2008, 304); as
well as destratifying agents of a becoming-child of the adult Yugioh content is a celebration
of triumphs of childhood over adult norms of responsibility, deferred gratication, discipline,
work, and academic achievement (Ito 2008, 313).
Yet, despite these vital glimpses, Ito underplays a signicant subterranean narrative owing
through her work when she concludes her study by stating: adults are increasingly not only mobi-
lizing tropes of childhood in political and personal arenas but are also consuming childhood as
an alternative identity formation (Ito 2008, 314). By relegating adult engagements with child-
hood to matters of representation (i.e. tropes, identity, dogmatic images), Ito leaves stratied
the hard dichotomy of child/adult, in the process overlooking that childhood is not merely appro-
priated and consumed by adults through their use and consumption of Yugioh mixed-media
objects, but is practiced and performed by and through them and the draws, pulls and relations
of difference that media objects such as Yugioh effect and create.
In relying on representations, stratifying and destratifying processes are overlooked in favor
of a pre-established logic. Through such representational schemes thought is not (or cannot be)
radically transformed, only reworked through what already is. Alternative identity formation
would then be merely a consumption of the same: a childhood that already is; a childhood hege-
monically pre- and de-scribed by the adult (see Jones 2008). It would be a vain attempt for
transformation through imitation of a supposed opposite. As Massumi (1992, 96) explains, imita-
tion conceives of the body as a structural whole with determinate parts in stable interaction with
one another The body is dened by its similarity to itself across variations: self identity
[and d]eviations from the norm are disregarded within certain limits. Despite Itos nal reliance
on representational explanations, her work expresses much more than this.5
If the differentiating power of media, its active, positive and generative effects, and its insights
and implications for childrens agency are to be adequately grasped, movements away from rep-
resentation as an explanatory device and movements toward the bodys capacity for being
affected by and ability to effect difference must be explored. It is vital to highlight here that
for transformations to happen, [t]o become a new body, an old body needs a new milieu
through which to move (Massumi 1992, 98). It is to a consideration of difference and becoming
media milieus of potential and emergent intellectual and affective social network formation that
we now turn.
Childrens Geographies 9

Affective networks
A milieu is nothing if not folds and relations. What distinguishes one milieu from another are
the forces, movements and creations of folds and relations that they permit and propagate; it is
their qualities, substances, powers, and events (Deleuze 1997, 61) that make them what they
are. A milieu can be anything: a street, a building, a family, a school, a loved one, a sound, an
object. Like any other phenomena, milieus may become relatively striated through the pleat-
ing and folding of bodies, spaces, discourses, and (self-)regulations; they may become strati-
ed networks of redundancy and limitation. Within such milieus, pointillism becomes the
guiding mechanism; points of history, points of place and space, points of time, points of
tradition, points of habit, points of pre-established reason: punctual systems of closure (see
Doel 1999).
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The street, the ally, the park, the yard once unregulated spatial milieus of the child are now
surveyed and quartered off as threatening or dangerous (Matthews, Limb, and Taylor 2000;
Gutman and de Coninck-Smith 2008, 4; Talbot 2013); they are relatively closed punctual
systems, either through the absenting of children or through their islanding (Gillis 2008). Yet,
the qualities and events of these spaces have not ceased to be; they have been refolded into differ-
ent forms: the street of the Internet; the park of the video game; the ally of the chat-room; the yard
of the Blu-ray and television. Because new milieus are not completely isolated or distinct from old
ones (old milieus are only such when they are not renewed through differentiating folds and
relations), it is no surprise that current treatment of childrens interaction with both old and
new media often parallels arguments about the need to control the material spaces where children
played and interacted. Virtual worlds of video games, lms, television, and the Internet are seen as
sites of anxiety where children are again at risk of corruption (Jones 2002; Valentine and Hollo-
way 2002).
Historically, experimental connections children formed by and through different spatial
milieus were overlooked or discounted and their creativity downplayed by the non-recognition
of childrens active and affective formation of social networks (see Belle 1989, 2). More recent
research has provided correctives to this by analyzing how childrens networks and material prac-
tices are intrinsic parts of the process of socialization and intellectual and emotional formation
(Holloway and Valentine 2001; Valentine and Holloway 2002; Aitken 2014; Linzmayer and Hal-
penny 2014). We wish to expand on this corrective by creatively looking into the lines, ows, and
milieus of potential becomings of a girl named Jauna and her family through communal media
interactions. We do this by putting to work expressive mo(ve)ments of the ethnographic
present, a mode of expression that is employed here as explicitly in the middle; that is, incom-
plete, open, fragmentary, partial, entangled, multiplicitous and emergent (Curti and Moreno
2010, 418). Through this expressive approach, we remember Massumis caution that becomings
can never be exhaustively described, but only glimpsed in and through rhizomatic mo(ve)ments
of affections and affects.

Potential becomings/becoming potentialities: cartographic glimpses6


The Place: Buenos Aires, Argentina. The time: Tuesday, 9 am. Melodic trails of a tune penetrate a
room ES HORA!: An affective realization. But es hora (it is time) for what? Bodily realiz-
ation precedes conscious recognition: the skin is faster than the word (Massumi 2002, 25).
It takes a mo(ve)ment recognition comes: it does so suddenly. A joyful shriek pierces the
air. A body seeks out the source of its affection. It is emanating from another room: a kitchen. A
space of food storage and preparation is in the process of deterritorialization: its qualities trans-
formed into a milieu of play through the passions, sounds, movements, and meetings of different
10 G. H. Curti et al.

bodies. One of these deterritorializing bodies will soon be a young girl. She is one-and-a-half
years old. Her name is Juana.
Juana enters the kitchen: AQUI! Her tiny hands grab a television remote-control. She points
her newly found appendage in the general direction of a TV. It is not yet loud enough for her
liking, you see, she is thinking through the body (is there any other way to think?).
Her heart begins to race a little faster Her eyes begin to open a little wider Her excite-
ment begins to grow exponentially Bodily intensity increasing with anticipation and proxi-
mity: Manny a la Obra is on.

*****
*****
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Beginning in 2006 and airing in over 15 countries (in many as part of Disney Channels pre-
school programming block Playhouse Disney), Manny a la Obra (Handy Manny in English-
speaking countries) follows handy-man Manny Garcia and his band of talking tools through
their bilingual7 animated adventures in the town of Sheetrock Hills. The Latin American
version of Manny a la Obra is particularly interesting for our discussion of the potentialities of
media. Its dialogue is presented though an amalgamation of different Latin American accents
assembled and interspersed with English words and select vocabulary that is not (yet) spoken
within already established linguistic communities. Through this simple presentation, it draws
on the differentiating capacities of language that are unleashed once it is destratied from
molar representational constraints of delity and meaning. Different iterations of Manny a la
Obra around the world in their differences still nd connections in expression which speak
before and after language (see Curti 2009). Through this, it becomes a potentializing force
pushing and allowing for different capacities and relations of action and thought. Experimental
and difference-making forces of expression take the lead as part of the creation of potentially
new communities-in-becoming. Through its creation of different affects, Manny a la Obra is
not only a force of (inorganic) life, but an intimate part of a becoming-social.
*****
*****
Juana climbs atop a chair. Her feet precariously perch on its seat. Light-images, color-images,
sound-images animated vibrations entangle her control. She jumps up and down. She throws
things at (to?) Manny. The seat shakes with joy. She sings along with Manny and his tools. She
repeats their movements. She repeats their sounds. She repeats their words: the differentiating
forces of repetition (Deleuze 1994).
She shouts with glee at (with?) the TV. Her parents join in. Her father: Sebastin. Her mother:
Patricia. Together, Juana, Sebastin and Patricia become deterritorialized by laughter, song, and
dance. What matters is not the state of affairs of what is, but the potentialities of what can be:
experiments in becoming. Patricia hums a melody. Sebastin dances with Juana. They play
together with and through the forces of media. They play with media through the affections
and affects of a daughter. The adult-at-play: the becoming-child of the adult. They are not
mimicking the child, they are not imitating media; they are affectively drawing maps together
each as a singularity so monstrously hyperdifferentiated that [they hold] within [each of their]
virtual geograph[ies] an entire population of a kind unknown in the actual world (Massumi
1992, 102) It is such forces and vibrations of becoming and hyperdifferentiation that reveal
that points and lines of networks are always at play.
*****
*****
Childrens Geographies 11

The United States Disney Channel website (2009) describes Handy Manny as an innovative,
multicultural animated series that is designed to infuse preschool viewers with an enthusiasm to
take on lifes challenges and to make things work, most notably interpersonal relationships.
Though the intent is toward the interpersonal, intentions are often less interesting than the
affects of difference they create. It is the affects and effects of the pre-personal, or pre-individual,
forces of becoming that we are pointing to here with Juana; those forces that are before or beyond
consciousness and its escape from molar recognition and identity, the pre-conscious forces that
help continually compose identity, the emergent forces of playful networks of bodies and
media (be)coming together, illustrating that [a] given network cannot present itself as a
unied, harmonious, and supposedly already completed order, for this fragmentary and ever-
changing chains of relationships and practices constitute precisely what it is (Eriksson 2005,
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601).
Though these potential networks may not be the intended effect of Manny a la Obra, they are
part of its reality. Through media assemblage(s)capes (Curti 2009; Curti and Craine 2011) of dif-
ferentiating forces and movements, child and adult are experimental (be)coming communities,
familial-becomings of sharing, affective networks connected by and through the affects and per-
cepts created by the world of Manny and his tools. Through its capacities to positively affect there
are agreements between bodies and emergent relations of joy: a creation of common connections
that can potentially stretch, expand and link up to include anybody-whomever in any space-time
wherever/whenever: an origami of unseen (un)foldings (see Doel 1999).
*****
*****
Where does Juana go from here? Does she travel to the United States to Australia to
England to New Zealand to Canada through her becoming-Anglophone? Do her identities
transform through a becoming-English a becoming-Latin American a becoming-Global?
Who will she connect with? A one-time Mexican viewer of Manny a la Obra a Danish
viewer a Canadian viewer a Malaysian viewer? What will they connect with? Different
bodies of media Different bodily memories Different cultural bodies? What milieus will
these becoming bodies help create? What worlds has Manny a la Obra prepared them for?
Or, perhaps it is just as well to ask, what worlds has Manny a la Obra prepared for them? The
becoming-Canadian of the Argentine The becoming-Mexican of the German The becom-
ing-Salvadoran of the Japanese? What lines of reason will these differentiating lines of imagin-
ation help (de)form? What networks will be created? What trajectories will emerge? What
maps will be drawn? Through what networks will they become? We do not know Neither
does Juana Nor do her parents Nor do they know how their own networks will be affectively
deterritorialized through each of their own intensive and dynamic becoming-child
*****
*****
These brief glimpses into both present and potential bodily connections and durations in
communion with Manny a la Obra should not be confused as passive mo(ve)ments of capture
in becoming. One may argue that Manny a la Obra and its mixed-media objects are simply hom-
ogenizing corporate Disney/Capitalistic mechanisms of capture and arrest. But this would be to
articially limit medias reality in effect and neglect its transformational forces of (inorganic) life.
It would also be to ignore Benjamins insights that the children in all of us have the creative
power to engage with capitalist objects of production in different and (micro-)revolutionary
ways.
12 G. H. Curti et al.

It is not the intentionality of production that denes unique becomings, it is not about consum-
ing media and media objects in pre-determined ways, but the (whenever/wherever) active poten-
tial of the becoming-adult of the child to form connections through different and differentiating
networks of affects and percepts and the adult to become-child through the deterritorializing and
destratifying forces of different media objects. It is, in short, about an experimental communal
mo(ve)ment of escape with and through the social as more-than-human:

Becoming is an escape, but it is not for that reason negative or necessarily oppositional. The body-in-
becoming does not simply react to a set of constraints. Instead, it develops a new sensitivity to them,
one subtle enough to convert them into opportunities and to translate the body into an autonomous
zone effectively enveloping innite degrees of freedom. (Massumi 1992, 102)
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It is pre-personal and generative forces of the meetings of bodies and media which draw (together)
the lines of this (micro-revolutionary) escape and which help create an autonomous zone affec-
tively networking vibrating points of possibility, potentiality and difference; a grow[ing] both
young and old in [becoming] at once (Deleuze 1995, 170) through the dynamic forces and exper-
imental lines of an always doubly articulated cartography of affective networks-at-play

Considerations
To return to our entrance point in a different way, what do such affective networks-at-play and
the potential becomings and becoming potentialities to which they contribute tell us about
Tomohiro Kato? They tell us that though his violent actions are tied to the supposed passivity
of childhood in and through different conventional and popular discourses, his course of action
was the outcome of an adult remaining adult. Because there was no deterritorialization, no
opening up, or rather because every deterritorialization, every opening up, was reterritorialized
and restratied along an already cartographically traced and sedimented anger, sadness and
bad conscience, Kato was unable to transform or manifest change. To put it another way,
because of Katos incapacity to playfully connect up with other bodies his becoming
became a becoming-the-same as he was. Though he recognized the afrmative potentialities
of media and desired different intellectual and affective capacities through them, his inability
to deterritorialize his passion and imagination and other bodies unwillingness or inabilities to
help deterritorialize him left Kato striated along lines of resentment, lacking the affective con-
nections that could push the molar tracings of the adult toward transformative mappings of the
becoming-child. Ultimately, it was a shared communal failure to practice the new once again.
As journalist Jenny Uechi (2008) explains:

All of his life, Kato was under pressure to obtain the trappings of social success: good grades, a
respectable job, close friends and a romantic partner. His sole positive message before the attack,
in which he said he felt a little happy to still be included in group e-mails, suggests that Kato had
invested too much of himself in a society that invested little back in him.

These understandings of and approaches to the life-afrming qualities of media challenge


conventional discourses that limit medias effects to potential hazard and risk; and the afrmative
power of the different and the forces its presents are precisely why engagements with globalizing
media are so vital for both conventionally understood children and adults. Through the affections
of media passional qualities and imagined worlds never felt or seen before may rise up to uniquely
challenge the limitations presented to and by identity. What these challenges are and do, however,
cannot be known prior to their emergence: the relationship of the actual and the virtual forms an
Childrens Geographies 13

acting individuation or a highly specic and remarkable singularization which needs to be deter-
mined case by case (Deleuze and Parnet 2002, 152).
Though of (yet) unknown natures, political mo(ve)ments of emerging difference must pass
through the realm of the child as they are always renegotiating and differentiating being as
both a practice and a structure. It is lines of the destratifying becoming-child of the adult the
lines that attach to or create an outside that demonstrate that all structure points are simply com-
posed of lines which dissect or segment, intersect, or tie up; and it is lines of the (re)stratifying
becoming-adult of the child that reveal that networks are always and only networks-at-play.
The implication of this is that approaching life through xed child/adult identicational binaries
both impoverishes understandings of the political and emergent capacities of children, young and
old alike, and casts a veil over the need to work before and beyond linear and essentialized devel-
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opmental representations of children/adults if one is to truly engage the political, social, spatial,
historical, cultural materialities and passages of what (different) bodies humans, media, or
otherwise do and are able to do.

Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.

Notes
1. Jenny Uechi (2008) wrote in JTO approximately a month following the attack:

In his postings between June 38 Kato makes it clear that relationships or the dysfunction
and lack thereof are his main concern. He uses the word hitori (alone) 39 times, kanojo (girl-
friend) 42 times, and tomodachi (friend) 26 times. More than poverty or troubles at work, Kato
sees his lack of a partner or friends as being at the root of his sense of worthlessness.

2. The term double articulation expresses diverse ordering or dening processes at work simultaneously
in the same being at different levels (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 4144). Aitken (2009, 129142) pro-
vides an example of how double articulations show up in the lines of ight taken by fathers becoming-
other.
3. Though one may choose to refer to these as structures, it is an illusion to believe that structure is the
earths last word (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 41).
4. Not surprisingly, several cultural group or tribe names translate to Humans or People.
5. Particularly as it relates to capitalistic production and consumption (see Ito 2008, 309).
6. Our account of Juana, her family, and their media interactions is based on observations that one of us
(Bosco) experienced during three months of eldwork in Argentina in 2010. The account we provide is
not the result of a single participatory observation, but rather a summary and an amalgamation of shared
mo(ve)ments all part of a family ethnography that developed opportunistically as another research
project in Argentina was underway.
7. This is not the case in all countries. For example, in Israel all original dialogue is translated into Hebrew
and in Portugal, Portuguese.

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