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Play@Khirkee

Play@Khirkee seeks to explore the patterns and affordances of play for children and young people in Khirkee village located in south Delhi. Play comes naturally to children. However adults often think of play as unwanted behavior. Play and the many different interactions with everyday places allow children to make sense of the world in their own terms.

Ordinarily children can and do provide for their own play. However in the context of a mega city such as Delhi this right is not so obviously exercised by children anymore. Parental licenses for playing outdoors are hard to come based on fears of traffic and stranger danger. Children still manage to negotiate licenses against all odds as one young Muslim girl in Nizamuddin Basti once told me, “I like playing too much!”

Khirkee represents a unique urban location being on the margins of shiny new mega malls and corporate hospitals. These developments have enhanced the real estate potential of Khirkee and its extensions even though Khirkee continues to survive on informal systems.

What do the children of Khirkee play? When do they play? Where do they play? How do they play? What are some of the constraints to playing outdoors for boys and girls? How do children negotiate with parents, other adults and different interest groups that simultaneously lay claim over urban space to play outdoors? Growing up in the shadows of globalized real estate of the Saket Malls, do children still engage in traditional games? How do they use the affordances of the physical environment of Khirkee and its surroundings through play? Do children have access to internet and computer games in this community? How do adults perceive children and children’s play in this community? What are the intergenerational opportunities for play and recreation in this community? These are some of the questions among others that this ethnographic field study will seek to answer.

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