Infants, childhood and language in Agamben and Cavell: education as transformation

Stefan Ramaekers, Joris Vlieghe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we explore a new way to deal with social inequality and injustice in an educational way. We do so by offering a particular reading of a scene taken from Minnelli's film The Band Wagon which is often regarded as overly western-centred and racist. We argue, however, that the way in which words and movements in this scene function are expressive of an event that can be read as a new beginning and that it is for this reason in and of itself educational. By drawing on Agamben's and Cavell's insights on childhood and what it means to acquire a language, we argue that in this scene a form of childhood is displayed which denotes a general condition for education to take place in children and grown-ups alike. Hence, education can be understood as a (temporary) interruption of existing power structures and as a transformation of one's existence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-304
Number of pages13
JournalEthics and Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2014


  • Agabem
  • Cavell
  • Arendt
  • education
  • transformation
  • childhood
  • infancy


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