Volume 18, Issue 2-3
  • ISSN 1568-1475
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This paper presents an analysis of a data set consisting of instances of body-directed gesture that occurred in racializing expressions of social difference during ethnographic interviews with two neighboring peoples of Ecuador: the indigenous Chachi, speakers of the Cha’palaa language, and Afro-Descendant people, who speak a variety of Spanish. When talking about differences among social groups and categories, a particular sub-type of body-directed gestural practice was salient: using indexical-iconic self-directed gestures as a way to describe other people’s physical bodies or appearances, including references to skin color, hair texture, clothing and ornamentation, and embodiments of carrying objects close to the body. The paper describes the trends seen in the forms and meanings of these gestures in their role here as part of socially categorizing and racializing discourses in the Latin American socio-historical context.


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Keyword(s): Afro-Descendants; body-directed gesture; Chachi people; Ecuador; pointing; race
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