The Politics of Gesture

Braddick, Michael J. 2009. Introduction: The Politics of Gesture. In: Braddick, Michael J. (ed.), The Politics of Gesture: Historical Perspectives. Oxford, New York: Oxford Journals, Oxford University Press, 9-35.

At the heart of the academic case for 'thick description' lies the ambiguous meaning of a physical movement - a boy 'rapidly contraching his right eyelid'. A simple observation (it is said) will not disclose the meaning of the signal - a twitch, a wink, or a parody of somebody's conspiratorial wink might all appear the same. Only an ethnographic analysis will disclose the meaning, or meanings, of this movement to those at the scene. Of course, for almost all historians the kind of ethnograptic analysis invited by this point of departure is impossible but the thought has been influential in the reading of particular texts. In Dornton's celebrated essay on the massacre of cats in Paris in the 1730s, for example, a similar methodological move is made: 'when you realise that you are not getting something - a joke, a proverb, a ceremony - that is particularly meaningful to the natives, you can see where to grasp a foreign system of meaning in order to unravel it'. The inexplicit of unstated meaning of action or utterance is what discloses the cultural frame to the observer; or, close analysis of the explicit reveals the conceptual underpinnings which make it seem possible, or natural, for participants. Here there is, perhaps, a connection with the Cambridge school of intellectual history, informed by Austin's writing on speech acts and intent on recovering the 'illocutionary force' of particular texts through contexualization, including an attention to what is not said, or to the particular choice made among available means of expression. The oft-remarked convergenge of social, political, and cultural history has as a central concern the importance of the implicit and unstated to an understanding of what was going on, and what it meant to participants. Non-verbal communication in face-to-face encounters is cruciar to that enterprise, and this volume explores how far historians might get in entering that terrain. (Braddick 2009: 9-10)
There is a connection between nonverbal communicatian and cultural meanings, and it is possible to better understand both (a given) culture and behaviour through analysing how people make sense of their (and others') actions. The approaches it this collection are "implicitly concursive," that is, they read closely the historical accounts of what people thought about behaviour and compare these to each other in order to arrive at a clearer statement of how a certain form of behaviour functioned in a given time and place.
It is a presumption of the following essays that gestures can be powerful means of communicatin affirmation and solidarity and, for the same reason, can be powerful means of expressing dissent. Class, gender, and generational relationships are all expressed and reproduced in gestural codes; so, too, are ethnic identities. Such codes are therefore central to the process of structuration described by Giddens: through individual actions we express, and reproduce, breader social relationships (structures). By the same token, transgressive gestures, or infractions of gestural codes, such as failing to take off a hat, or an over-familiar use of the handshake, can modify or even tnasform the patterns of social interaction, leading to a more coercive expression of authority. Gesture, in other words, can be the battleground over which divergent visions of social and political order are fought. Youth cultures and partisan identities are expressed non-verbally, in presentations of the self, which can also serve to sicence challenges to established values. In revolutionary situations these self-presentations express in shorthand the divergent values of partisan groups. Of course, these clashes can be unconscious - or example, in unintended miscommunication at moments of inter-cultural conduct - but such unfortunate miscommunications are no less important for their nature, nor less revealing to historians of larger assumptions about social relationships and their regulation. (Braddick 2009: 10-11)
Making a case for the relationship of nonverbal communication and power, here mainly in terms of transgressive gestures (of dissent) and the established values, norms, codes, authorities and social structures.
Indeed, central to the politics of gesture, is the difficulty of isolating intentional expression, and of defining what that intent was. Here, then, are we concerned with the broader 'complex structured systems of bodily actions that are socially acquired and laden with cultural significance', of which gesture, narrowly defined, is but one part. (Braddick 2009: 12)
Indeed I would rather like to shut the question of intention out of my own discussions, precisely because it is difficult if not impossible to define what was the intent behind a certain action, at least without sufficient context (what proceeded, what followed, what happened simultaneously, who were the actors, and many other such questions which resemble an investigation more than anything).
It is in this enactment of social order in face-to-face encounters that the political potential of gesture lies, but also in the ambiguity and elusive quality of non-verbal communication. Edward de Vere, the not altogether glorious seventeenth earl of Oxford, was remembered generations later by John Aubrey as the man who in 'making his low obeisance to Queen Elizabeth, happened to let a Fart, at which he was so abashed and ashamed that he went to Travell, 7 yeares'. On his return the Queen, perhaps (but perhaps not) intending to put him at his ease 'welcomed him home, and sayd, My Lord, I had forgott the Fart'. This was not a gesture, one might think, but an involuntary bodily expression. Nonetheless, it signalled big politics: an involuntary physical movement had profound political consequences because it disrupted a social order being enacted in space and time. On the other hand, the Ethiopian proverb that 'when the great lord passes the wise peasant bows deeply and silently farts' signals the same physical movement as a consciously directed act (or utterance), but one for a selective audience. This fart is a silent expression of dissent which allows for the maintenance of a sense of personal integrity while outwardly conforming with the behavioural expectations of social order - the need to make a low obeisance. (Braddick 2009: 16)
This Ethiopian proverb was also noted in Steven Lukes's Power: ARV. The distinction of gesture from an involuntary expression is again a somewhat artificial construct. The matter of significant and insignificant gestures is not reducible to intent, I think.
Effective presentation of a personal style can be crucial to the naturalization of authority. This, Sir Kenelm Digby was renowned in early Stuart England for his immaculate manners, which conferred a 'natural aouthority' much sought-after by those in power. He 'was such a goodly handsome person, gigantic and great voiced, and had so graceful elocution and noble address etc that had he been dropped out of the clouds in any part of the world, he would have made himself respected'. Here what were learned manners were presented as a kind of universal language, a natural language communicating across space and time, a kind of nobility which was crucial to the expressing of authority. Charles Cavendish was another seventeenth-century gentleman who had 'in an eminent degree the semblance and appearance of a man made to govern.' An absence of obvious affection was cruciar to this. He, like Sir Robert Harley, understood that military commands flowed easily from an obliging familiarity: a captain's good look or good word (sometimes) does infinitely win them and oblige them; and he [Harley] would say it was to admiration how Soldiers will venture their lives for an obliging officer'. This was widely remarked upon during the English Civil War - Colonel Hutchinson had 'a certain spirit of government, in an extraordinary manner which was not given to others, carrying an awe of his presence that his enemies could not withstand'. As Sennefelt shows in her article, a similar performance of apparent indifference to proprieties in dealing with social inferiors wasa powerful means of mobilizing support for Count Gyllenborg on the streets of eighteenth-century Stockholm: a means to command 'natural respect'. (Braddick 2009: 19-20)
This is the question of Haltung or comportment. Manners give authority an air of legitimacy, to appear "natural."
Throughout his account of the sectarian menace Edwards drew a strong connection between belief and behaviour, suggesting that those of desperate opinions could be expected to behave outrageously. (Braddick 2009: 21)
To some extent this is certainly true. In case of my "degenerated anarchism," I do sometimes look like a bum and behave uncourteously.
Gestural or performative excess is a clear indicator of insincerity, apishness; or part of the critique of court manners from the perspective of the republic of the eighteenth-century Parisian street, for example. As we have seen, charisma is specific to a place and time, but it can also be contested within a culture too: as with textual sources there are 'interpretive communities' with shared views of non-verbal communication. Even here, of course, non-verbal communication can be manipulated, and inauthenticity can be the pount: as in the burlesque of a wink discussed by Geertz, or the obviously insincere performance of penance by Abraham Comyns, described by Walter below. (Braddick 2009: 23)
Overperformance remins me of "bootlicking," especially in a small scene from Remsu's book where he is giving a lecture and wants to jot something town and immediately a student rushes to give him a pen. "Is that all you can do?" thinks the main character, e.g. is the student there not for the lecture but in order to curry small favours without being asked to, so that they could one day in some way be cashed in. That is, a "normal" performance of this action would be reluctant, responding to some "ritual" pleading by the lecturer; not jumping the gun as if the lecturer's thoughts had been read.
Manners, gesture, and deportment are crucial to the enactment of social orders, and to the expression of partisan identities within them. For the same reason gestural codes have often been seen as barometers of social change. Mercier's vision of the republican virtue of the Parisian street, as described by Colin Jones, can be seen as an assertive defence of urban society, an anonymous socual world but not one without identifiable rules of social interaction. Other commentators have been less optimistic about the value of changing codes of behaviour and many histories of manners have been engaged with this question of social change. (Braddick 2009: 27)
This is also very common in everyday discourse, somewhat related to infantile amnesia, that people used to have manners but not anymore. Sometimes this is even a bit weird, as when complains are raised that there are no "true gentlemen" left, implying that there ever were gentlemen as those depicted in popular culture. It is indeed a bitter feeling when reality does not accord to fantasy.
In all these historical situations it is clear that gestures have to be placed against a wider background of self-presentation - in dress, manner, style, and deportment, for example, as well as in the context of the power relations in play. In gestural studies, as we have seen, this is considered a kind of foreground to the physical movements whicha re utterances and closely linked to speech. Experimental work on modern subjects, however, suggests that these things are not clearly and distinctly perceived; that participants more often have a sense of an overall 'impression' rather than the precise movements which have given rise to that impression. This certainly seems to be the case with historical accounts of gestural impropriety, which often do not clearly describe particular gestures. But what might seem to be a source problem could also reflect contemporary perception: what is registered is often not the detail, but the impression, not only what is given out but what is given off. IN an important sense the expcessive and political potency of gesture lies in this very ambiguity - allowing for deniable challenges, minor manipulations of the situation which are difficult to challenge without provoking a conflict which seems unnecessary. Such unpunishable, perhaps even unperceived, acts of resistance - supercilious bows or fashionably knotted ties - might be 'weapons of the weak', or powerful defences against the hidden injuries inflicted on the self by submission to the behavioural demands of a given social and political order. (Braddick 2009: 28)
It almost seems that Braddick is discussing 'the conversation of attutides' in Mead's sense.
Personal or partisan style, charismatic or otherwise, depends on non-verbal communication of which gesture (narrowly understood) is a significant part. Its power as a defence, or as a weapon of the weak, often lies in its indistinctness although there are occasions on which its clarity carries a shocking charge. Gesture serves as a means of assertion for individuals in themselves, or as embodiments of a group - the gentry, the godly, or the nation, for example. That can also be contested, the performance disrupted, by non-verbal means, or derided as affected, inauthentic, or clownish. In this complex web of communication and nuance meaning minor forms of resistance might serve as an actual challenge to power, a restraint upon it, or more minimally create space for self-respect between a broadly conformist presentation of the self and unspoken dissent. It is through the silent fart, perhaps, that the disempowered can express the hidden injuries of class. (Braddick 2009: 31)
Again negatioting the relationship between nonverbal communication and power.
Nonetheless, as a general rule, the extent of the violence and injury inflicted by non-verbal communication presumably varies alongside shifting abstract understandings of the power of non-verbal communication, according to the consciousness of these things, and the significance attached to those that are perceived within larger cultural systems. It might cost little to kowtow but be too much to take off a hat; and the cost might differ not only with the actor's own understanding of these relationships, but of the actor's understanding of the other participants' understanding of them. Nonetheless there were, and are, limits; one interest for historians of the politics of gesture might be in probing where and how they have varied. (Braddick 2009: 34)
Nonverbal communication changes with culture. That is, there are dynamic aspects to both.

Brubaker, Leslie 2009. Gesture in Byzantium. In: Braddick, Michael J. (ed.), The Politics of Gesture: Historical Perspectives. Oxford, New York: Oxford Journals, Oxford University Press, 36-56.

In this, he follows a pattern of behaviour that was established in late antiquity, as we know from Ammianus Marcellinus's description of the emperor Constantinus's visit to Rome in 357:
Acordingly being saluted as augustus with favouring shouts, while hills and shores thundered out the roar, he never stirred, but showed himself calm and imperturbable, as he was commonly seen in his provinces. For he both stooped when passing through lofty gates (although he was very short), and, as if his neck were in a vice, he kept the gaze of his eyes straight ahead, as turned his face neither to right nor to left, but (as if he were a clay figure) neither did he nod when the wheel jolted, nor was he ever seen to spit, or to wipe or rub his face or nose, or move his hands about.
This artificial impassivity, an absence of gesture, was a sign of imperial majesty and dignity. Closer in time to the crown, Byzantine writers suggest that such immobility was intended to emphasize the emperor's special closeness to God. Michael Psellos, in a psasage composed about twenty years before the crown of Hungary was made, wrote about the emperor Isaak Komnenos, who ruled from 1057 to 1059:
You are an image of the sign of God. You are straight, true, stiff, exact, sweet, gentle, steadfast, firmly fixed, lofty. ... Where is there any anger in you, where are the streams of laughter, where are the traces of rage, and where is the babbling of speech? ... Where [do ve see] a knitting of the brows or any angry expression?
In short, the absence of gesture was, in public settings, an imperial attribute that visualized the emperor's role as the thirteenth apostle, Christ's representative on earth. (Brubaker 2009: 36-38)
Majesty and immobility. Haltung with an emphasized halt - self-control as a mechanism of inhibition.
The politics of alignment found on the crown is this anticipated in the Sinai mosaic; here too we find a visualization of the politics of gesture. In the main field of the apse, Chirst is clearly presented as the major player. He is central and frontal and, like the emperor, passive and immobile. He is olse totally self-contained: he makes the sign of blessing, but his arms do not extend away from his body. The figures next in importance are Elijah and Moses, Old Testament prophets who appeared in the heavens at the moment of Christ's metamorphosis. They turn slightly toward Christ, and gesture their acknowledgment of his presence and divinity with slight movements of their arms and gaze. The least important figures in the scene are the three apostles who were present at, and blinded by the light of, the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8). The apostles are lower than Christ and the prophets, and far more active. John and James kneel to show respect, turn their heads and eyes toward Christ, and raise both arms in a gesture that signified prayer; Peter falls forward, as if about to prostrate himself (as indeed he does in other images of the scene). Once again, the relative degree of gesticulation directly charts the relative importance of the figures presented. (Brubaker 2009: 40-41)
In mosaic representatives there is of course a higher degree of choice and manipulation than in today's photographs, but it seems that relative importance can still be read from photographs.
At Sinai passivity mapped onto sanctity: ithe more holy the figure, the less active. (Brubaker 2009: 46)
This is "the higher the status, the less there is work" motive carried over to both instrumental and expressive action.
Pictures of, and writings about, gestures can never be anything but an abstraction of actual gestures, no matter how formulaic the physical situation in which those gestures were expressed. Marshall McLuhan was right: the change in medium - what we would now call the change in genre, really - transforms, to a greater or lesser extent, the message. We can never know exactly what the gestures pictured or described - or even, had we a time machine, enacted - 'really' meant. That is not the point. What is important is that visual or written descriptions of gestures were clearly very important to the Byzantines. (Brubaker 2009: 55)
This is one of the general "laws" of concursivity. It is also very commonsensical: a model is a model, not the actual thing. It is important to note that for us some behaviours may not be significant (carry meaning), but we can see that for the people who use them, they are significant (relevant, valuable).

Arms forded across the chest could mean that the figure was silent or, as in images of the forty martyrs of Sebaste, that the figure was freezing to death. (Brubaker 2009: 55)
Quoted from Maguire's Art and Eloquence pp. 40. Compare this to Allan Pease's interpretation.

Depreux, Philippe 2009. Gestures and Comportment at the Carolingian Court: Between Practice and Perception. In: Braddick, Michael J. (ed.), The Politics of Gesture: Historical Perspectives. Oxford, New York: Oxford Journals, Oxford University Press, 57-79.

As we have seen, according to ERmold the Black, when William of Toulouse advised Louis the Pious to launch an attack on Barcelona, 'smiling (adriens), the kinf clasped this good servant in his arm, exchanged kisses with him', and thanked him in the name of his father, Charlemagne. We should note that Ermold here refers to the smile of Louis the Pious. We know, thanks to his biographer Thegan, that this king, so deeply imbued with the monastic ideal, never laughed enough to let his white teeth show. Although the laugh was considered a specifically human characteristic, it was also, in ascetic and monastic circles, equated with a loss of self-control, unlike the smile, which was a reflection of heavenly beauty. Some authors of the Carolingian period also took an interest in the language of the eyes. Chief among these was Notker the Stammerer, both to express favour and anger. (Depreux 2009: 72)
These matters have seemingly aways stirred interest.
It may be that monastic authors were more inclined than others to pay attention to gestures, as a result of the liturgical codification of their observances. However, caution is needed as, while there is nothing to prevent us from believing that finger movements were already used as a way of communicating, while observing silence, as early as the Carolingian period, sign language is only attested, sporadically, in monastic circles in the tenth century (Cluny playing a decisive role in the spread of this practice).
In any case, the examples discussed above would seem to confirm the thesis that medievalists should focus their research less on the gesture itself than on the attention paid to it. (Depreux 2009: 76-77)
Remininscent of Sebeok's edited Monastic Sign Languages.

Rubin, Miri 2009. Gestures of Pain, Implications of Guilt: Mary and the Jews. In: Braddick, Michael J. (ed.), The Politics of Gesture: Historical Perspectives. Oxford, New York: Oxford Journals, Oxford University Press, 80-95.

The subject matter of this collection aims to take these historical enterprises a big step further. It hopes to interrogate gestures past, acts which were fleeting, which could be ambiguous, that required a great deal of local knowledge to be read and properly understood. Gestures are usually acts of habitual adherence to convention, but they can also be carefully deployed to express attitudes which may not be as effective, or indeed safely, articulated otherwise. The papers in this volume show what a wide range of materials and situations may be considered when we ponder how through 'individual actions we express, and reproduce, broader social relationships. (Rubin 2009: 82)
That's because gestures are not "universal" (contrary to what Allan Pease may claim), and need to be placed into a context in order to be understood.
Here I return to the importance of gesture as a mode of instruction and as a template for action. Something very profound emerged out of the emphasis on the bodily unmaking of Christ and the suffering of his mother, alongside the cruel jeers and tortures of their tormentors. In the thirteenth century (and even more so in the fourteenth) Mary acquired a rich array of new gestures: she stretched her arms out to her son, she stumbles and falls, she even faints. The choice of gestures is closely informed by scriptural imagery and biblical exegesis: Mary's body gives way just as the Song of Songs (5:6) has spoken: 'My soul melted when he spoke: I sought him, and found him not: I called, and he did not asnwer me.' Amy Neff has shown that Mary's gestures at the foot of the cross are often depicted as those of a woman in labour; this was quite fitting since Christ's painless birth was symbolically reversed at his death. Mary's gestures and her facial expressions mattered greatly to those who depicted them and those who later used them as part of the experience of instruction and procession with images. Cathleen Hoeniger has traced the work that was invested in retouching and maintaining the facial features of figures in Tuscan sacred images. Such treatment aimed to enhance the image's power to express and to engage viewers. The heightened movement and expressivity in scenes of the Passion created an inherent ambiguity. In representing Mary's gestures and expressions of emotions conventional propriety had to be observed. Hers were to be dignified gestus, elegant and appropriate movements of the body, not the exaggerated and uncontrolled, the undignified gesticulatio. (Rubin 2009: 87-88)
The difference between gesticolation and gesture seems to be that of coding; e.g. low or high coding.
We are often studying a sole gesture, in an image or a mention in a chronicle. Sometime we can thicken the context, as I have tried to do, with words and sounds and explications. Yet only rarely are we able to connect the process by which gesture was internalized, embodied and turned into parts of a collective identity, so that it could move to action, as it often did in violent encounters between Christians and Jews. The economy of the gesture seen or even enacted is not fully understood outside the context of performance, without the energizing charisma of the preacher, or the forceful leadership of some local hero. Such full contexts are difficult to reconstruct: despite the foct that they often led to action theirs were ephemeral performances, only rarely recorded by contemporaries. When we do come to hear of the exploits of charismatic preachers such as Bernardino de Siena (1380-1444) or were uttered, we recognize their knowing use of gesture and the direction which their gestures offered to their audiences. (Rubin 2009: 94)
Presumably nonverbal communication is an important part of "charisma".

Walter, John 2009. Gesturing at Authority: Deciphering the Gestural Code of Early Modern England. In: Braddick, Michael J. (ed.), The Politics of Gesture: Historical Perspectives. Oxford, New York: Oxford Journals, Oxford University Press, 96-127.

The standard definition of gesture is that it presents a form of non-verbal communication achieved through any distinct bodily action that is regarded as part of the process of deliberate utterance or expression. But this leaves problems. The embodied nature of a structure of movement of part of the body in the act of communication might argue for a broader definition of gesture. Posture, the structural arrangement of the body in space and the state and positioning of the body as a whole, also has a role to play in amplifying (or undercutting) the message imparted by the structural movement of part of the body in gusture. What contemporaries referred to as gait, demeanour, manners, pose and, not least, countenance and visage (which might include the Geertzian 'wink', but also incorporate the more passive countenance) also played a part in the meanings communicated through gesture. So might dress or undress. And, of course, a too-literal acceptance of the definition of non-verbal communication ignores the fact that 'voice' too and its modulations were often also important in underwriting or undermining the meaning of a gesture. (Walter 2009: 98)
A jab at defining nonverbal communication from the standpoint of a historian.
Gesture could express, acknowledge, even lay claim to social and gender identities. As such, gestural interaction could define social and gendered relationships, framing the content of exchanges within them. In so doing, it registered degrees of intimacy and distance within the relationship. Gestural display also calibrated in both subtle and direct ways the level of power at play within these relationships. (Walter 2009: 101)
Sounds nancy-henley-ian.
The historical record or organized forms of protest obscures the importance of gesture in acts of protest. Accounts too frequently condense a rich and, in the case of the large-scale episodes, protracted process to the stereotypical event of 'riot' or 'rebellion'. Generalized descriptions therefore often conceal the gestures made in collective protest. But it is surely significant that a standard handbook for JPs defines a riot as a disturbance of the peace occasioned, inter alia, by 'turbulent gesture'. Early modern England has a rich inventory of gestures from fingers to feet to express contempt: shuffling the feet, grimacing and grunting, staring ('standing in another's face'), sticking out the tongue, locking the thumb between the next two fingers, and (imported from Spain) biting the thumb were some of the many. As the author of a book on 'the naturall language of the hand' observed: 'your broad verball jest is nothing neare so piquant as these foule hobits of reproach by gesture, which bro[a]ch men as it were with a spit' [Bulwer: Chiralogia, pp. 183]. It seems likely that some or all of these gestures might be present in the crowd. But on occasion gestures were so 'turbulent' as to break through generalized references to disorderly conduct. (Walter 2009: 113-114)
Another drop into the bucket of "semiotics of protest" or "nonverbal communication of/in protest".
The micro-sociology of Goffman, as well as the work of others like James Scott [Dominance and the Arts of Resistance], has taught us to see the importance of what was at stake here. Large-scale patters of social structuring and domination depend on everyday forms of social interaction and on the construction of social reality acknowledged and undertaken within those interactions. Forms of domination based on the premise of the inherent and natural superiority claimed by elites were literally inscribed on the body. They depended on embodied rituals of deference in which rountized gestures of acknowledgement of superiority and acceptance of subordination played an important part. (Walter 2009: 122)
Somehow this sounds foulcaultian.
In a thoughtful discussion of the dialectic between deference and defiance, Andy Wood concludes that a self-knowing plebeian compliance brought short-term gains, but ultimately reproduced elite cultural hegemony. In considering this conundrum, there is considerable scope for further work on the micro-politics of gesture. There were clearly degrees of plebeian dependence and independence. The poor beggar with cap in hand, outstretched hand, and bended knee represented an extreme of dependence that made gestural conformity a necessity. And displays of gestural dissidence were doubtless fewer in the small-scale face-to-face enclosed village with resident lord, squire-appointed parson, and select vestry. But the body language of others sections of plebeian society (proto-industrial workers in open rural parishes and an independent urban artisanate) might be less easily controlled. Intersections of space and time (with changes in the availability of land and labour) might also work or constrain the scope for gestural independence. (Walter 2009: 125)
Valuable for my own thesis on dissidence in dystopian fiction.

Jones, Colin 2009. Meeting, Greeting and Other 'Little Customs of the Day' on the Streets of Late Eighteenth-Century Paris. In: Braddick, Michael J. (ed.), The Politics of Gesture: Historical Perspectives. Oxford, New York: Oxford Journals, Oxford University Press, 144-171.

In selecting as his own title The Structural Transformations of the Public Sphere: An Enquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, ath thus rendering Öffentlichkleit ('the public', 'publicness') as 'public sphere' - Burger inserted a spatial metaphor into the English version of Habermas's work, and thereby into subsequent anglophone discussions of the eighteenth-century public. (Jones 2009: 144)
This same theme implicitly runs throught the discussions of semiospheres, and has aptly given rise to the semiotics of space.
Subsequently, a polarized spatiality affected scholarship in the Habermasion paradigm. Even though eighteenth-century scholarship has arguably become less Habermasian of late, it still remains the case that notions of public and private retain some of the fuzzy topograptical determinism that the slip of a translator's word-processor launched onto a largely unsuspecting world. (Jones 2009: 145)
A fuzzy topographical determinism can also be noted in semiotics of culture, due of the notion of semiosphere.
Surprisingly, the polarized spatial way of thinking about public and private does not seem to have stimulated much interest in what we might call (to retain the spatial metaphor, if only heuristically), the interstitial, that is, the terrain which lies between 'public' and 'private'. The street is one such area. Largely unirritated by post-Habermasian musings, it has either been dismissed as a neutral conduit between public and private worlds or else used as the locus of a somewhat dubious 'plebeian sphere'. The street is, however, far from neutral, and far from being frequented solely by plebeians. Besides being interstitial, moreover, it is also liminal space, 'Goffmanesque' zone of encounter, interface, or even collision between a wide array of social actors from higherst to lowest, from most 'public' to most 'private'. (Jones 2009: 145-146)
"Interstitial" is a term that could prove useful for discussing dystopian worlds where the distinction between public and private are fuzzy due to the as-if panoptic surveillance.
Mercier is critical of the people of Paris over their craven gestural submissiveness in the street, but this is more a sign of how much he values the street as a civic space than a mark of how little he prizes the populace. In general terms, Mercier has a benign and generally admiring view of the people of Paris. He presents the Parisian street as a site where Parisians have learnt and are learning new ways of being free and happy. In 'this superb and joyful city in which people live according to their tastes' (IV, 2), 'the Parisian laughs at everything' (IV, 158), and refrains an irreducible capacity for sustaining freedom. He thus bids to triumph over a dangerously pathogenic environment and a retrograde political system - both characterized in similar murky terms as both corrupt and corrupting. (Jones 2009: 154)
Submissiveness and overethusiastic or uncalledfor apologeticism are somewhat repulsive inthemselves, so it does not merit much attention that Mercier feels this way. On the other hand there is a similar notion in dystopian worlds where the protagonists, after having "woken up" feel repulsed at the conformists and their submissive behaviour.
Mercier's attack on court life is hardly new in this period, but it is particularly vivid, not least because he is able to tie his critique down to forms of everyday bodily expressions and gestures. The corruption of the courtly milieu can, literally, be read on the faces and in the unthinking gestures of the denizens of the court: 'one can detect on all court physiognomies the anxiety that no facial preparation can completely disguise. Smiles are never true and caresses are counterfeit' (V, 297). Life ot court is sheert spectacle (V, 40: 'un vrai spectacle'), and Mercier paints a striking picture of petitioners at court forming 'two ranks of bowing bodies and gaping mouths', as their noble lord 'distributes a pronounced and gracious smile' (V, 38-39), 'How much nodding of the head between the august personage and his supplicants! How much shrugging nad waving1 (V, 36). Despite the stylishness of these gestures of courtesy, moreover, they lack substance and, in particular, feeling. Courtly homnêté is profoundly deceptive: 'all is uniformity because every thing is done behind the arras. One has to appear serene when burning with ambition, and calm when devoured by the fires of vengeance' (VIII, 75-6). (Jones 2009: 155)
The Goffmanian play (or simply self-presentation) at the 18th century French court.
The thrust of Mercier's critique of the artificiality of court life is essentially political, but it also has a gendered aspect. Louis XIII and Louis XIV brought the feudal aristocracy off their lands and placed them in the royal court where they could be subjected to an enforced diet of homnêté. Women help keep them there. Some of Mercier's choicest barbs are aimed at women of fashion in high society, who are so wedded to social artifice that they lose all sense of reality, dressing os though they were 40 years younger and encouraging men to follow them down the paths of artificiality. 'No female face', Mercier epines, 'that does not studiously seek to hide its age' (II, 213). The feminized male élégant, for his part, 'mill rather smile than reply. He does not glimpse himself in the mirror; he has his eyes constantly on himself (II, 158). Mercier imagines a scene in which the élégant, supreme expression of vanity and artifice, looks into a fashionable Saint-Gobain mirror, only to see reflecting out at him the grim visage of a wretched Parisian worker on whose sweated labour his class obscenely depend: 'Now gaze at yourselvel, effeminate men, and smile at your face. This polite figure reflecting your graces has been fashioned by hard manual labour and greaning misery. Instead of your own physiognomy, see the shifting, hideous, starving and emanciated face of these wretched workers' (XI, 315-16). (Jones 2009: 156-157)
This passage has a distinct feel of the movie Brazil (1985) attached to it. E.g. old women who are addicted to plastic surgery and fancy garments with no interest whatsoever in the lower class people, even when they set off bombs very near to them.
Courtly values were important in their time at the acme of the reign of Louis XIV; but now 'true civility' ('sa vraie civilité') - in other words, Parisian politesse and affabilité - 'has banished those impertinent forms of politeness so cherished by our ancestors. Based on common sense, [true politeness] is not embarrassed nor does it appear awkward; it is responsive to situations, is malleable towards all characters, avoids heaviness, hides what has to be hidden, puts others at their ease and it does not mislead, because it follows rules which are not absurd and which are dictated by reasoned goodwill' (IV, 116). (Jones 2009: 158)
False politeness vs true politeness.
A key player in this work of acculturation is the teacher of deportment - le maître d'agrément - who instructs his charges how 'to smile in front of a mirror with finesse, to take snuff with grace, to throw a glance with subtlety, to bow with particular lightness. He teaches how to talk throatily like actors, to imitate them without copying them and to display the teeth without making a grimace' (II, 217). (Jones 2009: 161)
That is, so-called "body language teachers" existed already in the 18th century. Probably there are earlier examples of "etiquette experts" but I have not yet dealt with the subject.
Although Mercier is moralistic and condemnatory about the facile emulation of what he regards as archaic and noxious values, he realizes that the character and the continued force of monarchical power encourages disguise and dissimiluation. Though willing to acknowledge the state police's role in social 'polishing', he emphatically deplores their repressive role in life, and the way in which their activities incentivize dissimulation. Though willing to acknowledge the state police's role in locial 'polishing', he emphatically deplores their repressive role in public life, and the way in which their activities incentivize dissimulation. Paris is a city, he maintains, where everyone is 'under the lock and key [and where] one comes and goes before peepholes dominated by Argus eyes' (1, 14-15). The 'sure and indefatigable eye' of the ploice never quits them, giving urban pedestrians a generalized sense of boing kept under watch. The pedestrian 'walks surrounded by spies. Two citizens have only to be whispering in each other's ears for a third to arrive who prowls around trying to hear what is being said' (I, 184-5). Moreover, a spy adept at the arts of disguise, may be 'on the same day a chevalier de Saint-Louis, an apprentice wigmaker, a tonsured friar and a scullery lad' (I, 185). There are, moreover, 'spies at court, spies in town, spies in bed, spies in the street, spies among the whores and spies on wt' (I, 193). Such dark, protean figures, who can change 'hpsyognomy as they change their dress' (II, 185: 'de physiognomie comme d'habillement'), swarm into every part of everyday life. In seeking to stabilize this fluidity, the Parisian police have devised a technology of recognition - the signalement, or description of particulars - which identifies, pigeonholes and reduces the individual to as assemblage of bodily signs: 'The signalement ... is a true portrait which allows no error; and the art of thus describing the face with words is developed to such an extreme that the best writer, however much he reflects on it, could not add anything or use other expressions.' (I, 193). (Jones 2009: 163-164)
Compare signalement to modern practices of (facial and otherwise) recognition (software).
The physiognomic analytical grid is simply too crude to register the fineness of social gradations within contemporary Paris. All that Lavater can manage is being both obvious and wrong. He is obvious in that he is to a considerable degree telling us what we already know: general 'truths' of the order, that 'with a balanced, open and frank soul, the face is always beautiful'. 'That', Mercier states scornfully, 'I could have remarked without having read M. Lavater' (II, 176). Lavater is also wrong in Mercier's eyes because he subscribes to a kind of somatic determinism which has no place in Mercier's philosophy. (Jones 2009: 167)
What Mercier feels about Lavater I feel about Pease. One day I should probably painstakingly differentiate what is meant by somatic determinism and what I have termed nonverbal determinism elsewhere.
Mercier is emphatic about how the spontaneous gestures of smiling and laughitg are perverted at court. Courtiers don't smile, they smirk and snigger rather than smile or laugh sanely> 'the laughs are false and caresses counterfeit', and the courtier's smile is 'the smile of malice', a malevolent gesture, or else full of disdain and condenscension. There in no more telling a condemnation of the court's artificiality that the fact that the élégants have to be taught how to smile by a maître d'agrément. (Jones 2009: 169)
I know what Mercier means. I was taken by the a woman placed in the center of the audience of Bob Mankoff's TED speach "Anatomy of a New Yorker cartoon". The woman had beautiful white teeth, but the smile was stretched to show gums, making her face look like a mouth with eyes, and she made obvious efforts ta keep the smile constant. At times it was cingeworthy to see her making an effort to keep up the smile. The sight was unnerving: when Mankoff was done speaking and left the room or something to this effect, she glanced away, following him with her gaze. At this point a normal smile would have diminished, but she kept it up. The eyes looked confused but the smile was still there. She looked a bit... insane.

Sennefelt, Karin 2009. The Politics of Hanging Around and Tagging Along: Everyday Practices of Politics in Eighteenth-Century Stockholm. In: Braddick, Michael J. (ed.), The Politics of Gesture: Historical Perspectives. Oxford, New York: Oxford Journals, Oxford University Press, 172-190.

In Stockholm, like other cities in the eighteenth century, people hung around and lingered at squares, strolled in the streets, met acquaintances and tagged along with them wherever they were going. It is these actions that are the focus of this article. Although not gestural, they are similarly mundane and spontaneous, only to be understood contextually.
One of the most characteristic features of urban life is the mability of pedestrians in public spaces, thereby creating a common world of shared experiences. (Sennefelt 2009: 173)
That is, "locomotive sociality" is comparable to gestures.
The everyday, then, is neither regarded as self-evident or unproblematic. Istead, everyday life is a means of 'animating the heterogeneity of social life, the name for an activity of finding meaning in impossible diversity.' Everyday life, however, mostly goes by unnoticed. The task then becomes to make it noticeable. (Sennefelt 2009: 187)
Useful for semiotics of everyday behaviour. The reference for this passage: Highmore, Ben 2002. Everyday Life and Culture Theory: An Introduction. London; New York. Quoted at page 175. This could be a book deserving a place on the shelves of our library.

Arnold, David 2009. Salutation and Subversion: Gestural Politics in Nineteenth-Century India. In: Braddick, Michael J. (ed.), The Politics of Gesture: Historical Perspectives. Oxford, New York: Oxford Journals, Oxford University Press, 191-211.

Of all the multiplicity of gestural signs in nineteenth-century India, this essay concentrates on those connected with salutation. This is partly for pragmatic reasons - to make a vast subject manageable - but also on the strategic grounds that salutations were at the frontline of social interaction. They served as signs of recognition, signalling the relationship not just between individuals but also the social constituents to which they belonged. At a time when power relations remained uncertain between the British and Indians, salutations and the responses the elicited might be a means of gouging acceptance or implicit hostility. Greeting gestures might mirror established social relations, but equally, by their conflict or cultural divergence. (Arnold 2009: 192)
Salutations stand for social relationships / are indicative of social relationships.
This flouting of ceremonial convention - less the 'invention of tradition' than an ad hoc concoction of gestures, a minestone of manners - did not augur well for the Burmese. In addition to having to make further commercial concessions, they were soon to lose more of their territory to British expansionism. But in 1826 the symbolic importance of rites of salutation was clearly understood on both sides, making the visitors' determination not to comply with Burmese conventions a kind of surrogate warfare conducted by means of signs and gestures. (Arnold 2009: 195-196)
A title for the power games of gesture.
Like the images and narratives relating to sati, the Mutiny and Rebellion of 1857-8 offers a rich field for the gestural politics of nineteenth-century India. The traumatic episode encouraged European reporting of gestures that might otherwise have passed unrecorded. Gestures - their ambiguity, incengruity, or absence - signified so much (often more than the spoken word), especially in situations where there was a barely intelligible switch from subservience to revolt. Even before the mutiny, signs and gestures were understood by the British as having expressed the soldiers' discontent and presage their revolt. In April 1857, a month before the outbreak at Meerut, British writers recalled 'bad feeling' among losdiers in northern India, accompanied by rumour and arson, attributed to sepoys' hostility to the 'greased cartridges' for the new Enfield rifles. The first gestures read as 'insubordination' were often oblique, directed at objects that were supposed surrogate targets for sepoys' mounting aner and disposition to revolt. At Mainpuri on 19 May - a week after the outbreak at Meeru but before any local disturbances had occurred - a soldier of the 0th Native Infantry on guard-duty shot at a crow. This was interpreted as a sign of incipient disaffection: he was arrested but freed by other soldiers. Thereafter the sepoys at Mainpuri 'assumed a threatening and defiant demeanour and to every keen observer their angry looks showed too plainly the appreach of a gathering storm'. Exactly what their 'demeanour' was is left unexplained but with hindsight its import was clear enough. (Arnold 2009: 203)
The case of ambiguity.
The key word here was 'countenance', habitually used to communicate a distinctive sense of personality. By the eighteenth century the term was rarely used in India, as it apparently still was in Britain, to represent an individual's facial appearance and expression. Where it was used, as in the ethnographic literature, it described the features and demeanour ascribed collectively to a particular caste or tribe. A whole language of gesture, and the ability or desire to read it, had been lost. (Arnold 2009: 211)
It should be asked, how countenance relates to Haltung, and, in Goffman's "face" scheme, with poise. It indeed seems to be the case that there have been miscellaneous ways to treat (speak about) nonverbal behaviour, e.g. in terms of expression and elocution, that have been lost in time. And one could only hope that this will some day happen to Peaseism as well and more refined knowledge becomes widely known. In this sense even Ekman and Friesen's categories of coding have served their time and should give way to something new.

Hevia, James L. 2009. 'The Ultimate Gesture of Deference and Debasement': Kowtowing in China. In: Braddick, Michael J. (ed.), The Politics of Gesture: Historical Perspectives. Oxford, New York: Oxford Journals, Oxford University Press, 212-234.

Kneeling had long been associated in Great Britain with subjugation, but such associations took on new meaning in the nineteenth century as a result of the transformations of physical space in the emerging bourgeois world. The opposition between kneeling and standing upright resonated with others such as high/clean and low/dirty, distinctions which figured not only social class and the geography of the nineteenth-century city, but, as Stallybrass and White have argued, the feminization of servitude in the figure of the kneeling chambermaid. The Victorian gentleman and maker of empire was just the opposite - stalwartly upright, only touching the ground with more than one knee when wounded or dead at the hands of savage barbarians. (Hevia 2009: 222)
Sounds similar to Edmund Leach's dissection of "markers of interpersonal domination" e.g. lateral opposition, postural contrast, precedence and elevation (Schwartz, Tesser & Powell 1982: 115).
My understanding of gesture as an object of scholarly investigation comes from the work of David McNeill, where a close tie is forged between physical actions and speech acts. In an introduction to a recent volume of collected essays, McNeill traced a history of the study of gesture in which the initial focus was on the mannered performances of orators, their rhetorical gestures. In the 1930s, the focus shifted to ordinary life and the almost spontaneous occurrence of movements accompanying communicative acts. More recently Adam Kendon has argued that gestures are part of language itself, a proposition that has stimulated new directions of study. McNeill outlines four of these. The first treats gesture as part of social interaction. Gestures are taken to be instruments of human communication and as such are understood as interpsychological. The second approach draws from cognitive psychology and seeks to determine the origin of gestures and their 'interrelations with speaking in the real time mental processes of individuals'. This approach McNeill calls intrapsychological. The third approach involves computational modelling, while the fourth deals with ways to make the 'transition from gesticulation to sign'. (Hevia 2009: 225-226)
The first is "intersubjective" and the second is "subjective" with that awful philosophical word replaced with "psychological"; the third probably heads towards TACS (Total Action Coding System) and the fourth is semiotic. Neat.

Vincent, Mary 2009. Expiation as Performative Rhetoric in National-Catholicism: The Politics of Gesture in Post-Civil War Spain. In: Braddick, Michael J. (ed.), The Politics of Gesture: Historical Perspectives. Oxford, New York: Oxford Journals, Oxford University Press, 235-256.

The Roman salute was a conspicuous part of a clear, uncompromising and aggressive gestural code that proclaimed fascist identity, affiliation, and submission (of the individual to the collectivity, of the self to the nation, of the government to the governors etc.), but as a personal gesture it could still be used by individuals to dissociate or distance themselves from at least part of that collective assertion of fascist identity. (Vincent 2009: 240)
The dystipian genre is chalk full with official gestures that are performed for the sake of survival but without any personal investment of feeling.
The devotional practices of reparation, consecration, and enthroning had, by at least the 102[s, become associated with the general gestural codes not only of penitence but also of purity. Reparation was made to the Sacred Heart to atone for the offences offered to God by tho world and, in the early twentieth century, these were strongly associated with immodesty and licentiousness. Hence the emphasis on decorum and deportment; the faithful were not only to cover their flesh (including, for women, their hair) but were also to kneel and bow their heads, observing a purity of vision that eschewed temptation and distraction. Women, whose bodies gave the greatest offence, were this ekpected to observe a 'custody of the eyes', as practiced ordinarily by nuns leaving the purity of the cloister for the scandal of the 'world'. (Vincent 2009: 243)
A title for the "display rule" of non-gaze-behaviour.
A modesty of stance and gesture could be exemplary, serving both to demonstrate an individual's personal purity and to cleanse the external environment. (Vincent 2009: 243)
A title for religious control of bodily behaviour.

Fulbrook, Mary 2009. Embodying the Self: Gestures and Dictatorship in Twentieth-Century Germany. In: Braddick, Michael J. (ed.), The Politics of Gesture: Historical Perspectives. Oxford, New York: Oxford Journals, Oxford University Press, 257-279.

But there may indeed be some mileage in exploring the role of gesture in the German dictatorships. Such an analysis might illuminate ways in which dictatorships were enacted, experienced, or subverted in everyday life; without this level of everyday enactment, it would arguably have been harder for state policies 'from above' to be implemented in routine practices. The extent to which there is significant identification between sections of the population and regime policies, allowing everyday enactment to take place in a relatively unthinking manner, varies quite widely, with different psychological consequences. This approach may also serve to raise questions concerning the longer-term implications of living within dictatorships for what might be called the changing character of the 'social self' over significant historical transitions - an area which has as yet received little systematic theoretical attention. (Fulbrook 2009: 258)
The relationship of nonverbal communication of power.
Such daily, routine mobilization has consequences for both the patterns of behaviour and the inner views of people living within dictatorship. The distinction between 'inner states' and visible outer forms of behaviour could often be a matter of life and death; manipulation of body languag, 'passing off' or behaving 'as if', could often bea means to survival. Even where behaviour patterns became an everyday matter of outward conformity, there could remain a sharp distinction between what was, metaphorically, 'rendered unto Caesar', and quite contradictory or ambivalent inner thoughts. (Fulbrook 2009: 263)
This is vaguely reminiscent of Nicole C. Krämer's article in Human Behaviour in Military Contexts. E.g. "Life-or-death decisions sometimes depend on subtle nonverbal signals." Living under a dictatorship seems to be one of these cases wherein subtle nonverbal signals make a huge difference, because non-conformists are persecuted or even executed.
For those opposed to the regime from the outset, of course, apparent conformity could be combined with non-verbal body language as a means of clandestine communication. Sonja Axen, for example, recalls how as a child she participated in illegal activities in the 1930s, including functioning as 'cover' on weekend outings to discuss resistance activities: her task would be to run around the pictic group and starti singing a particular folk song if she saw danger approaching, at which point the conversation would seamlessly switch into entirely harmless topics. (Fulbrook 2009: 265)
A memorable quote.
Even for von Dardorff, a member of the German 'racial' and social elite, the war ultimately provoked a fundamental querying of social virtues and values she had been brought up to enact: particularly, the quintessentially Prussian notion of 'bearing' (Haltung), or maintaining an outward appearance of self-control whatever the circumstances. As she put it, amid rising tension as war casualties mounted: 'How should one really behave? Always even-tempered, self-disciplined, iron-willed, that is, not naturally?' On 16 February 1943, fear became reality: von Kardorff recorded the death of her beloved brother Jürgen, fighting for a cause in which he did not believe. The last vestiges of any belief in the Prussian virtue of maintaining a facade of sely-discipline and bearing were lost with the news that her other brother, Klaus, was to be sent to Tunis, rumoured to be a "Tunisgrad' in the making:
I was overwhelmed by an uncontrollable attack [of emotion] while in the editorial office ... I don't give a shit about Prussian bearing, I screamed wildly, I don't want ta have to tremble with fear about my last remaining brother too.
Von Kardorff came into the penumbra of resistance circles, and briefly participated in delivering leaflets from the Scholl group. (Fulbrook 2009: 266)
Even those who lived through the Nazi period relatively uschathed sometimes felt that they were living in 'two worlds': the outer appearance of enforced 'normality', of going through the motions, or throwing oneself into cultural and social life; and an inner world of uncertainty, doubt, fear about the future. At the same time, the 'two worlds' became horrendous reality between different groups: gulfs were prized open and chasms formed, which were ultimately to divide those destined for the world of the living, and those who were not. (Fulbrook 2009: 267)
Enforced normality = conformity, orthodoxity.
Many Jewish survivors recorded incidents when, by virtue of quick thinking, they realized they would have to walk openly and upright rather than run away, successfully passing off as 'ordinary Germans' rather than Jewish Germans out in a public place without wearing the yellow star; or when a well-meaning passer-by would provide a tip-opp, a wink, a gesture to indicate the approach of danger or a way of hiding. (Fulbrook 2009: 268)
This seems to occur more in real life than in dystopian fiction.
Behavioural conformity in the GDR was far more prevalent than inner ideological commitment. Perhaps in this respect, practices of 'Heuchelei' - pretending to be commited in ways one was not, behaving differently at school or in the workplace than when among family and close friends - learned during the Third Reich could be readily adapted to the new circumstances, and transmitted across generations. (Fulbrook 2009: 275)
That is, the ability to feign ideological commitment during the Third Reich may have proven useful once East Germany was occupied by the Soviet Union.

Handler, Richard 2009. Erving Goffman and the Gestural Dynamics of Modern Selfhood. In: Braddick, Michael J. (ed.), The Politics of Gesture: Historical Perspectives. Oxford, New York: Oxford Journals, Oxford University Press, 280-300.

In another decade or two, we may be in a position to historicize the trend to see 'bodily practices' as an important topic for cultural and historical studies. Currently, however, we seem to be in the phase of ancestor worship, the nascent gods being people like Mary Douglas, Norbert Elias, Michael Foucault, and Erving Goffman. (Handler 2009: 180)
I believe that nonverbalism is already a part of cultural and historical study. It is perhaps merely a matter of time when a wider audience comes to recognize this fact. In this sense I hope that my proposition for "concourse studies" is timely.
Currently, the study of gesture ranges between two extremes. At one end of the spectrum, gesture is narrowly defined as one aming several paralinguistic channels, the others being 'gaze shift, holding of a certain posture, interpersonal spacing, self-touching, and bodily symptoms of emotional and physiological states'. That list is drawn from the entry on gesture in the most comprehensive of all social sciene reference works, the International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. The entry in question is intitled 'Gesture in linguistics'. Significantly, there is no other, more general entry on gesture. Gesture is here defined as 'a semiotic system distinct from language [but also] intimately linked to ... linguistic performance'. Analysis of gesture then becomes an exercise in parsing the meaningful oppositional units of the hand motions that accompany speech, and relating those gestural units to simultaneously occurring linguistic performance in other channels.
At the other end of the spectrum, the relevant entry in the Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology, by anthropologist Brenda Farnell, is entitled 'Gesture and Movement'. It is worth quoting the opening paragraph at length:
Human beings everywhere engage in complex structured systems of bodily actions that are socially acquired and laden with cultural significance. Some structured movement systems, such as the martial arts, sporting activities, idioms of dancing, dramatic arts, ceremonials, and ritual events, involve highly deliberate choreographed movement. Other uses of body movement remains out of ... focal awareness. ... Examples include ways of eating, dressing, walking, and sitting as well as modes of physical labor. ... Also out of focal awareness most of the time are the hands, postures, facial expressions, and spatial orientations that accompany speech.
Here gesture is presented as one among many bodily practic, from posture and dress to 'choreographed' activities such as ceremonials nad rituals. I suspect that most of us who are not linguists are working within the framework of this more general approach. It is not so much gesture narrowly defined that interests us, but a range of bodily practices that express social and cultural meanings. (Handler 2009: 282-283)
This is why I don't much use the word unless I speak narrowly of hand gestures. And even then my understanding does not fully coincide with the linguistic sense, because gesture remains a gesture for me even when no speech is involved. "Bodily practices" yet again has some weird connotations. I prefer "bodily behaviour" instead of actions or practices, which seem to be something more than mere behaviour. It might even be useful to dedicate some discussion to these categories, make some sense of them and see what accords to them in the whole selection of available data.
Comining as it does these elements of Mead and Durkheim, Goffman,s work treats interaction as a semiotic process. Interaction is not merely behaviour, nor can it be merely described without attention to its meaningful constitution. Moreover, the tiniest gestures within the interaction stream can be shown, from this perspective, to be profoundly significant for the social construction of actors as selves or persons - if only the observer take note of them. (Handler 2009: 287)
I've long thought about writing about this (indeed I have written one essay about it from the standpoint of Mauss's techniques of the body), but only lately discovered that someone got there before me and wrote a book titled The Nonverbal Self.
Te take up the question of how Goffman noticed, consider one of the enduring criticisms of Goffman, which concerns the unorthodox nature of his data, or its downright unreliability. Those who celebrate him recognize nonetheless the problem. Thus, Anthony Giddens: 'In [Goffman's] writings, observations drawn from social research jostle with issultrations derived from fictional literature, and with casual assertions made with very little apparent empirical backing at all'. Another admirer, Robin Williams, notes that 'the most notorious' of the materials Goffman 'pressed into service as data' are 'made-up data - imaginary examples of interaction and speech which are thes dealt with by the conceptual scheme ... with conspicuous success'. (Handler 2009: 287-288)
It should be no secret that Goffman's study was essentially concursive. He collected passages from fictional literature and stored them in a catalog. His writings are even called "prose" and Sebeok recognized him as a "quasi-semiotician".
As Goffman tells us later in the talk, description takes initial form in field nates. He extorts note-takers not to emulate Hemingway. 'The worst possible thing you can do', Goffman says, is to write field notes in 'defensible prose.' Rather, "write ... as lushly as you can, as loosely as you can, as long as you can put yourself into it, where you say, "I felt that"'. To do so, Goffman explains, is not 'unscientific' at all. On the contrary, it is 'part of the self-discipline' of fieldwork. And it creates a rich 'matrix' of data that 'later on' will allow the researcher to make properly sociological or scientific arguments. (Handler 2009: 291)
I agree wholeheartely. Goffman recognized the importance of data, no matter how insignificant it might seem at the time.
Goffman writes sociology not only with a heightened awareness of his natives' embodied knowledge, but with an awareness of the native model op persons who 'have', or posses, bodies. The native model of embodiment in the modern western world is both Cartesian and Lockean. Not only is a mid-body split presupposed, with mind understood as substance-less thought and body, thought-less substanc; it is also understood that an individual owns his or her body and that a mind operates or controls it. This is evident in Locke's labour theory of value, as expounded in the chapter of property in his Second Treatise of Government (1690). The philosopher C. B. Macpherson calls this 'possessive individualism', a term that has bees taken up to refer to modern ideology, in which the self not only owns his body and other property but is defined in terms of such ownership. (Handler 2009: 291-292)
The issue of having a body and being a body.
For an account of the recapitulation of prior social theory in apparently innovative theoretical works of the past two decades, see Robert Brightman, 'Forget Culture: Replacement, Transcendence, Relexification', Cultural Anthropology, 10 (1995), 509-46. (Handler 2009: 299; note 46)
Will do.


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