Volume 20, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1568-1475
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9773
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The inner workings of recurrent gestures can now be distilled from almost three decades’ worth of fine-grained studies into gesture form variants, kinesic organization with speech, core semantic themes, and discourse-interactive functions. Yet several questions about this gesture category have remained in the background. How do such gestures relate to the behavioral activities within which they occur, their wider embodied and intercorporeal context, and the relations between the people performing them? These questions are addressed by adopting an enactive approach to human relating and by analysing how the Vertical Palm gesture form materializes during an episode of gift-giving between two friends in China, where the practice involves elaborate embodied maneuvers resulting in a visibly affective ‘seesaw battle’. Treating gift-giving as a situation for participatory sense-making spun from a complex web of sensorimotor schemes, this seesaw battle provides a natural ecology for exploring understudied dimensions of the Vertical Palm recurrent gesture as embodied, embedded, and enacted during a practice with culturally-specific dimensions.


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