Gestures and gesturing on the African continent
This chapter provides an overview of documentation studies of gestural repertoires among different cultural groups and work done on their forms, meanings, functions and processes of conventionalization and iconization. It looks at co-speech gestures and how the structure of spoken languages and cultural conventions shape gestural forms and their deployment in relation to speech. The chapter reviews work done on gesture and gestural practices in relation to different communicative genres and work on the importance of gesture in performance, linguistic style, social positioning and identity. It examines research on the relationship between the nature of gestures and gestural behavior and the communicative ecology shaped by social environments. The chapter focuses on the role of gesture in language development and what these studies tells about the relationship between gestural development, spoken language and cultural practices. It discusses the relevance of these studies in the African context for the field of gesture, their theoretical contribution, and highlights areas for further research.