International Society for Gesture Studies

The International Society for Gesture Studies (ISGS) is pleased to announce the Eighth Conference of the International Society for Gesture Studies: Gesture and Diversity. It will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, July 4-8, 2018.

Established in 2002, the ISGS is an interdisciplinary group of researchers including anthropologists, cognitive scientists, computer scientists, linguists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and semioticians. The Society convenes for a major international conference every two years to share perspectives on the study of gesture and bodily communication.

Conference Theme

The first conference on gesture on the African continent will focus on the rich diversity of human gestural communication. Gestures and gestural behaviour are dynamic and changing –  varying not only across languages and cultures but also within cultural groups according to social levels, age, gender and situation.

The main aim of this conference will be to examine the wide range of linguistic and cultural phenomena and other factors that influence and shape gestural diversity. Special emphasis will be on comparative work looking at, but not limited to:


  1. Studies on gestural form, meaning and function;
  2. The relationship of gesture to language, whether spoken or signed;
  3. Gesture in language development and learning among children in different cultures and multilingual contexts;
  4. Gesture in language learning and conceptual development;
  5. Individual variation in gesture use and comprehension;
  6. The link between gesture and cognitive, cultural and linguistic diversity;
  7. Studies of gestural forms and practices across languages and cultures;
  8. Gesture and its role in sign language variation.

Plenary speakers

Sotara Kita: Psychology, University of Warwick, UK
Eve Sweetser: Linguistics and the Program in Cognitive Science, UC-Berkeley, USA
Olga Capirci: Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, CNR, Italy
Judith Holler: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Netherlands
Yolanda Covington-Ward: Africana Studies and Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, USA

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Important dates

November 19th, 2017: Deadline for all submissions
January 29th, 2018: Notification of acceptance

July 4th to 8th 2018: Conference, starting in the afternoon on July 4th, closing at 1pm on July 8th.

Abstract submission

We will invite abstracts (450 words maximum, excluding references) of unpublished work for individual papers, posters, and theme panels.

More information coming soon.

Conference language

The conference language is English. Sign language interpreters will be available.

We encourage you to check out the related International Congress of Linguists conference also in Cape Town.

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