Gesture in the communicative ecology of a South African township

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In his work among Neapolitans, Kendon asks why a particular gesture profile should have come to exist. He suggests investigating communicative styles from historical and ecological perspectives to explain how different cultural patterns of communication develop and are sustained. This chapter explores gesturing in the communicative ecology of a South African township. It examines the nature of gestures, their communicative and social functions, how cultural norms of conduct and the physical environment influence gestural behaviour, and how gestural behaviours index different social meanings that are shaped by social structures and the history of South African township life. It compares South African township life and Naples identifying common factors that may have given rise to similar gestural behaviour in both communities.


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