“The Praxeology and Phenomenology of Gesture: A Case Study” – visiting IAS research seminar by Jürgen Streek

Date and time: 16th April 2013, at 11h15
Location: Carlos Santamaría Zentroa, Room B14.

The Praxeology and Phenomenology of Gesture: A Case Study

Jürgen Streeck

(The University of Texas at Austin & Carl von Oissietzky-Universität Oldenburg)

Drawing on a praxeological framework for the study of gesture and embodied action (Streeck 2009) this presentation will present video data and analysis of the communicative practices of a single individual, the owner of a car-repair shop. It is shown how this man deploys hand-gestures to solve problems of shared perception, diagnosis, and collaboration in interaction with employees and customers. A particular focus of the presentation is on the dialectics between habitualized gestures and situated improvisation and on the question how spontaneous movements of the hands pick out and highlight significances of an emerging communicative situation and thereby impact its further course. The presentation as a whole is a plea for the merging of the phenomenology of body motion and the micro-analytic study of real-life moments of social interaction.

Next autonomeeting: Dr. John McGraw, “Ritual and Enaction”

Date and time: 25th March 2014, at 11.15

Location: Carlos Santamaria Building, Room B14.

Speaker: Dr. John McGraw, Department of Culture and Society – Interacting Minds Centre (IMC), Aarhus University

Title: Ritual and Enaction


In parallel with recent developments in the cognitive sciences regarding the importance of action, ritual theory has undergone a similar revision over the last few decades. Whereas ritual was once discussed solely in terms of symbolism and belief, now the importance of ritual action is foregrounded. Many theorists consider doing rituals, rather than inferring various theological subtleties supposedly implied by them, to be paramount. However, this school of thought should not be interpreted as the marginalization of meaning as a fundamental category, though a basic reorientation is required: Meaning, as participatory sense-making, comes predominantly from the enaction of ritual rather than from ideas or beliefs thought to be expressed by those rituals. In this talk, theories of enaction and theories of ritual action are juxtaposed in order to arrive at a set of productive comparisons between the two theoretical frameworks. As in the theory of enaction, it is here suggested that ritual is an important means of “bringing forth a world.”