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Conversational Organization & Embodied Interaction in a Wolof Village

March 14, 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Manoa Campus, Crawford Hall 115

Dr. Christian Meyer:
In recent years, scholars in Conversation Analysis have made repeated and intensified claims about the universality of conversational organization. Especially the turn-taking machinery including the “minimal gap-minimal overlap” maxim (Levinson) was found to be a candidate universal of human existence that provides the “the armature of sociality which undergirds our common humanity” (Schegloff) and is due to our common nature as “sighted, language-using bipeds” (Sidnell). Through the application of methods of interaction research, my paper discusses this claim about the universality of conversational organization from a broader, cultural anthropological perspective. Drawing on conversations among elder men on the main square of a small Wolof village in Northwestern Senegal, it presents cultural phenomena that influence the character of the turn-taking machinery and produce a conversational outcome that is not oriented towards “minimal gap-minimal overlap”. These phenomena include culture specific usages and conceptualizations of the senses, concepts of the person, and emotional models and practices.


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Department of Anthropology, Manoa Campus

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