Bodily Conversations

Shouting, crazy hand gestures, head bobbing, and jumping are all aspects you might notice when observing a conversation. As humans, we have the innate ability to bring our entire body into a conversation. For instance when you are mad, you tend to use your arms and hands, stick your neck out, and open your eyes wide, in addition to the typical shouting. In the blog post, Sensory Ways of Knowing, Elizabeth Challinor discuss how we conversation is comments between two people, but also bodily movements and gestures. Challinor talks about how she was present during a intense discuss in a language she was not all too familiar with, Creole. However, she was able to become a participant observer as she called it and although she was not able to understand most of what was said, she could understand the emotion and the energy of the conversation just based on the bodily gestures.

She goes into detail discussion what she describes as a method, unique to anthropology, which is called participant observation. She called this method as a form of attentive abandonment. She compares this term to an artist who, like the anthropologist, cannot separate their work from personal experience involved in producing it. Once involved in a situation, anthropologist can become attached to the memory, which stays as an emotion. This is unique to anthropology and is one of the many ways anthropological studies is helping to further our culture.