This review describes a paradigmatic shift in anthropological studies of human movement, from an observationist view of behavior to a conception of body movement as dynamically embodied action. After outlining the scope of such study, historical and cultural reasons for the relative neglect of body movement in anthropological enquiry are examined critically and placed in the wider context of recent social and cultural theorizing about the body and the problem of dynamic embodiment. A historical overview situates earlier approaches, such as kinesics and proxemics, in relation to more recent developments in theory and method, such as those offered by semasiology and the concept of the “action sign.” Overlapping interests with linguistic and cognitive anthropology are described. The emergence of a holistic “anthropology of human movement” has raised new research questions that require new resources. Theoretical insights have challenged researchers to devise new methods and to adopt or devise new technologies, such as videotape and an adequate transcription system. An example of the latter illustrates the analytic advantages of literacy in the medium.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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