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date: 19 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Play and playfulness is a key element in enabling social performance and one that transcends ethnicity, time, and space across all social levels. This contribution explores board games as a case study of play and performance in the medieval period, in a European context. It highlights some of the key discoveries of gaming material culture and their diverse contexts: castles, monasteries, churches, villages, and ships included. These underpin questions of gender, identity, pilgrimage behaviour and ritual, and the life-course. Play, it is argued is fundamental to the performance and negotiation of agency in a range of gendered settings both secular and religious.

Keywords: play and playfulness, board games, performance, pilgrimage, children, chess, tables, daldos, castles/cathedrals/monasteries, gender and identity

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