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Helen B. Schwartzman Keynote Speaker at The Association for the Study of Play Meetings in Rochester, New York

May 8, 2024

Helen B. Schwartzman (Professor Emerita of Anthropology) presented the Keynote Address at the 50th "Golden Anniversary" Conference of The Association for the Study of Play (TASP)March 21, 2024 in Rochester, New York. Her talk, entitled Play à la Mode, focused on the importance of viewing play as a mode or disposition that can be adopted toward any activity and not, itself, a separate category of behavior. Drawing on Gregory Bateson's ideas about meta-communication and the inherently contradictory nature of play communication ("this nip is not a bite"),

Schwartzman calls attention to the need to examine how play is communicated and interpreted by the players themselves. Instead of asking why do we play and what is its functional significance, the central question becomes what is play and how do we know it. This means that in order to study play we must begin by examining how players themselves create and sustain a world where their understanding is that what is done is not what it appears to be. 


Schwartzman's paper will be published in an upcoming issue of the International Journal of Play. It will appear alongside Gregory Bateson's 1977 Keynote Address "Play and Paradigm" presented at the Third Annual Meeting of this organization which was then known as The Association for the Anthropological Study of Play (TAASP).