Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Performing action while instructing in collaborative work requires that participants deploy their bodies within spatial configurations that facilitate the collaborative projects they pursue. This presentation investigates the embodied work entailed in orchestrating the teaching of relevant practices with reference to a given object by a more skilled practitioner to a novice. Using videotapes of a seven-year old child learning to bake cookies, a six-year old daughter being instructed by her father as how to shop for produce, and an 18-month old child learning to brush teeth, I analyze the moment-to-moment work people deploy in arranging their bodies and the world around them in order to contingently accomplish their collaborative projects. Competently rendering objects and aspects of them as visible is a multi-sensory endeavor that is thoroughly lodged in the projected courses of action that the participants pursue. Processes of enskillment (Ingold 2000) are accomplished via multiple modalities, not simply the visual or aural. Learning how to look (C. Goodwin, 1994), how to read a text document, how to manipulate a tool, or how to recognize relevant qualia entailed in the object of scrutiny is central to the work of pedagogical activity in progress. Action is performed not by talk alone, but by action in interaction -- entailing the nuanced voice, bodily postures, gestures, and facing formations -- which constantly change to take into account the bodies of participants and their epistemic access to publicly observable phenomena and the project under way (C Goodwin 2000).