Why We Play

An Anthropological Study

Roberte Hamayon

Why We Play

Roberte Hamayon

Distributed for HAU

Translated by Damien Simon and with a Foreword by Michael Puett
370 pages | 1 map | 6 x 9 | © 2015
Paper $35.00 ISBN: 9780986132568 Published August 2016
Whether it’s childhood make-believe, the theater, sports, or even market speculation, play is one of humanity’s seemingly purest activities: a form of entertainment and leisure and a chance to explore the world and its possibilities in an imagined environment or construct. But as Roberte Hamayon shows in this book, play has implications that go even further than that. Exploring play’s many dimensions, she offers an insightful look at why play has become so ubiquitous across human cultures.
           
Hamayon begins by zeroing in on Mongolia and Siberia, where communities host national holiday games similar to the Olympics. Within these events Hamayon explores the performance of ethical values and local identity, and then she draws her analysis into larger ideas examinations of the spectrum of play activities as they can exist in any culture. She explores facets of play such as learning, interaction, emotion, strategy, luck, and belief, and she emphasizes the crucial ambiguity between fiction and reality that is at the heart of play as a phenomenon. Revealing how consistent and coherent play is, she ultimately shows it as a unique modality of action that serves an invaluable role in the human experience. 
Review Quotes
Anthropos
"The book is written in a conversational style, rhythmically asking questions and providing answers, leading very logically from one chapter to the next, and is thus, despite its epistemological complexity, deriving from the multifariousness of the matter in question, a good read."
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