‘We Are Gunslinging Girls:’ Gender and Place in Playground Clapping Games


  • Albert Casals Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • Joanna Riera Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


Clapping games, school playground, social changes, Primary School


This article presents a qualitative study of clapping games in the playground, a space directly conditioned by its historical and socio-cultural context. Based on qualitative interviews and observations with adults and children in Catalonia, Spain, we argue that the repressive Francisco Franco dictatorship (1939-1975) and the emergence of Spanish feminist and other critical movements in the late 1960s have shaped the nature of clapping games in school playgrounds. Through a close analysis of their lyrics, we defend the idea that the study of clapping games is important for understanding the gendered geographies and culturally-specific moments of girlhood in Catalonia, and highlight the role of playgrounds as spaces where girls negotiate their roles and identities.

Cet article présente une étude qualitative des jeux de main sur les terrains de jeux, des lieux qui sont directement conditionnés par leur contexte historique et socioculturel. Selon des observations et des entrevues qualitatives avec des adultes et des enfants en Catalogne, une région de l’Espagne, nous faisons valoir que la dictature répressive de Francisco Franco (1939-1975) et l’émergence du féminisme espagnol et d’autres mouvements critiques à la fin des années 1960 ont façonné la nature des jeux de main qui sont joués sur les terrains de jeux scolaires. Une analyse approfondie des paroles nous permet de défendre l’idée que l’étude des jeux de main est importante pour bien comprendre la géographie des genres et les moments propres à la culture des jeunes filles de la Catalogue, et elle met en évidence le rôle des terrains de jeux comme des lieux où les filles négocient leurs rôles et leurs identités.


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Author Biographies

Albert Casals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Lecturer and postdoctoral researcher at the Music, Arts and Physical Education Department and a member of the music education research group at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. His PhD thesis and his main line of research focus on how ethnomusicology can contribute to improve primary school education. In addition, he is carrying out research on the link between traditional song and identity, and the relationship between music and other school subjects. He is a member of various research groups and has authored several publications in the fields of education and ethnomusicology.


Joanna Riera, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Researcher specialized in issues related to the oral transmission, understanding and discernment of meaning among children through musical activities. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Music and a Master’s in Music Education and Musicology Research. Although she uses an ethnomusicological approach in her research, she collaborates with working groups focused on oral transmission in other areas, especially in the context of comparative psychology.


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37.1- Transgressing Borders/Boundaries: Gendering Space and Place