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Re: [xmca] FW: Cultural History of Play

Hi all
Mike, about ethnographic studies of childhoor, my south African
colleagues on the list might be able to elaborate on this:

There have been studies related to childhood, poverty and political
transformation (i.e the period post 1994), such as a 2007 publication by
Bray et al for the Human Sciences Research Council Press (HSRC): Growing
up in the new South Africa:Childhood and adolescence in post-apartheid
Cape Town
(See http://www.hsrcpress.ac.za/product.php?productid=2276 for more

For political reasons there is a resistance to researching people
‘tribally’ i.e. related to ethnic or ‘cultural’ context (such as
Junod’s Life of a South African Tribe, 1927),  obviously because of the
anti-essentialist anthropological turn, but also because apartheid
encouraged the separation and classification of people according to
groups and then meted out resources in relation to these groupings.
‘Pure’ forms of particular cultural groups are almost non-existent
(although I found a 2009 Masters thesis on the ‘Karretjie people’: 
Steyn, S. Childhood: an anthropological study of itinerancy and domestic
fluidity amongst the Karretjie people of the South African Karoo),  and
differences seem to related more tosocio-economic status and place of
residence (urban, peri-urban, rural etc) (E.g. Bray & Brandt, 2007,
CHILD CARE AND POVERTY IN SOUTH AFRICA : An ethnographic challenge to
conventional interpretations , Journal of Children and Poverty, 13 (1),
2007, 1 – 19.)
Besides the Bray et al book, over the years there has been a focus on
the effects of apartheid and violence on children (for example a chapter
in Sharon Stephens, ed., 1995,Small wars: Children and the Politics of
Culture,  Princeton, on Youth in South Africa by Pamela Reynolds;
Njabulo Ndebele; and Carton, Benedict. 2000. Blood from Your Children:
The Colonial Origins of Generational Conflict in South Africa.
Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia). Unfortunately these
studies have a broad scope and don’t focus particularly on play, or play
There are some interesting references on
If I had two lives, then this would be my focus!

Mary van der Riet; School of Psychology; University of KwaZulu-Natal
Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209

email: vanderriet@ukzn.ac.za
tel: 033 260 6163;  fax: 033 2605809

>>> Beth Ferholt <bferholt@gmail.com> 07/05/10 06:36 AM >>>
For people who read the article and want more details about the recent
innovations in NYC playgrounds --

Mead's article is very interesting, but she did not write very much
HOW the children are using these new playgrounds ... I have spent most
evenings this summer in the playground in which the child read, and
her shirt to the mist of the sprinkler (according to Mead), because this
playground is right by my apartment and my child is four.  It is a
playground, compared to most others in NY and CA, but how I hope it
open and unchanged!
The children play in this playground as if they have been
charged with joyful energy.  They run through the gates as if they are
returning to an old friend.  At dusk all you hear is crying because so
children are dismayed that they must leave the sand and water.
My own child said, the first day he played in this new playground, "This
everything I wanted all year." This weekend, visiting cousins in the
suburbs, he said, "I don't know why they want to live here, where there
no Pier 6 (the local name for this new playground)."  It seems to me,
my observations over the past weeks, that this particular new playground
unlike playgrounds I have seen in the US before (and only like the
playgrounds I saw in London in the mid 80's (with their dangerously high
wooden structures and daredevil ten year olds) -- ).  This is because
playground combines open-ended materials (lots of s
and and water) with
(height and speed and spaces away fare used to interacting with children they have never met before, and
skilled at standing up for what they believe is best for everyone when
conflict arises.  The combination produces meaningful events -- all over
playground and all day long.  Pier 6 very quickly turns into a place
with memories, a space alive with associations -- The children do not
bored of the equipment, but instead seem to find the place richer, and
their very own, each time they return.
A water taxi (3$ round trip and children ride free), leaves the
just behind the swings and magically takes you off the land and over the
water, in the open air to the Brooklyn bridge, Manhattan, etc. -- but
is most popular among the four year olds whom we have brought to the
playground is a 15 minute boat ride in a circle, nleaving Pier 6 behind
briefly and then returning for another episode of experiencing.

On Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 2:55 AM, Mary van der Riet

> Indirectly related to your forwarded post Mike :  Rebecca Mead on how
> playground design affects children’s brains:
> http://www.newyorker.com/online/2010/07/05/100705on_audio_mead
> Mary
> Mary van der Riet; School of Psychology; University of KwaZulu-Natal
> Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209
> email: vanderriet@ukzn.ac.za
> tel: 033 260 6163;  fax: 033 2605809
> >>> mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> 06/29/10 18:22 PM >>>
> Thanks Rod. I know that several XMCA folks are interested in this
> I think that publication of part of Elkonin's doktorat would be a
> contribution here.
> mike
> On Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 1:31 AM, Rod Parker-Rees <
> R.Parker-Rees@plymouth.ac.uk> wrote:
> > Dear all,
> >
> > I thought some of you might be interested in this.
> >
> > With best wishes,
> >
> > Rod
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Issues around children's play needs [mailto:
> > PLAY-CHILDREN@JISCMAIL.AC.UK] On Behalf Of Alice Atkinson-Bonasio
> > Sent: 29 June 2010 08:34
> > Subject: Cultural History of Play
> >
> > Dear List Members,
> >
> > I am currently conducting some preliminary research for an edited
> > collection of works addressing the cultural history of Play.  We are
> > particularly interested in work that addresses and unpacks the
> and
> > cultural importance of particular play phenomena in the past. This
> not
> > about the objects and mechanics of play in and of themselves, but
> way
> > that play as it happened in the past is connected to wider
> of
> > identity, power, pleasure, work and consumption practices, etc.
> >
> > We are aiming to gather material and a list of contributors for a
> symposium
> > in 2011, with a planned date for publication around the end of 2012.
> >
> > If you have some material that might be appropriate or would like to
> be
> > involved, please do get in touch as soon as possible. Equally, if
> are
> > unsure that your area of interest fits the above description, drop
> a line
> > and I'll be happy to clarify things.
> >
> > Furthermore, if anybody has any suggestions of other email groups
> which
> > might be relevant to this project, please do let me know.
> >
> > Many thanks in advance for your help and I look forward to your
> responses.
> >
> > All the best,
> >
> > Alice Atkinson-Bonasio
> > Research Assistant
> > "Cultural History of Play" Project
> > University of the West of England
> > Alice.Atkinson-Bonasio@uwe.ac.uk
> > _______________________________________________
> > xmca mailing list
> > xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> > http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
> >
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