ISGS: International Society for Gesture Studies

Minutes of the Sixth Conference of the ISGS in San Diego, 2014

ISGS General Assembly
Thursday July 10, 2014
Fung auditorium, University of California, San Diego
Scheduled start of meeting: 12:30


The following members of the ISGS Executive Board were present: Mats Andrén, Alan Cienki, Jana Iverson, Adam Kendon, Sotaro Kita, and Mark Tutton. Also present were a number of ISGS members and interested parties (the exact number was not determined).

1. General welcome

ISGS president Sotaro Kita begins with a general welcome, outlining the structure of the meeting as follows:

2. Report from the president

Sotaro Kita outlines the major accomplishments of the executive board over the period of its two-year mandate (July 2012 until July 2014):

Kita reports that the board also considered the possibility of two-year ISGS memberships, as proposed by John Benjamins. This measure, however, was not adopted as some members were not so keen and subscription fees in two years’ time are not predictable.

Kita thanks Alan Cienki (vice-president), Jana Iverson (treasurer), Mark Tutton (secretary), and Mats Andrén (public relations manager) for their hard work.

3. Report from the treasurer

Jana Iverson provides us with an overview of the membership figures for 2013 and 2014.

36 members, of which: 24 Regular
4 Student without journal
8 Student with journal
218 members (conference year!), of which: 114 Regular
89 Student without journal
15 Student with journal

Jana then provides an overview of the financial state of the ISGS.

2012 $14,957.24
2014 $25,981.66

Revenue: $18,971.06
Expenses: $7946.64

The expenses include student travel awards and subscription to Benjamins for 2013.

4. Report from the vice-president

Alan Cienki reports on ISGS-funded student bursaries for the 2014 ISGS conference. These bursaries consisted of waivers of early-bird student member registration + student membership in the ISGS for 1 year. Each bursary was worth $324.

He points out the difficulty of having to decide on ‘who needed the money more’. Ultimately, 45 applications for the bursaries were received: 43 from students, 2 from non-students. Looking solely at the 43 student applications, 22 were from the US or Canada, and 21 from outside of North America.

The decision was made to attribute the bursaries to the 21 students from outside of North America, the argument being that travel to the conference is more expensive for these candidates and that the presence of these students develops the internationalization of both the conference and the society.

Alan invites suggestions for questions and recommendations for the future.

Eve Sweetser points out that the ISGS is very inter-disciplinary in nature; it is difficult to convince students to come and pay $300 to partake in the conference when the subject area (i.e. gesture) isn’t in their ‘domain’ yet.

The possibility of having students help out at the conference in return for a conference-fee waiver is brought up.

Fey Parrill points out that this is not the first time that the ISGS has selected students for funding: this was also done for the Frankfurt (Oder) in 2010. There is a brief discussion, initiated by Mark Tutton, of how student bursaries were attributed in 2010. Tutton states that students were not selected for the ISGS conference itself, but rather for the ISGS Summer School that they attended immediately prior to the conference. There is a brief discussion of the funding of these bursaries in 2010 (funding from the Volkswagen Foundation).

Fey Parrill will provide the guidelines used in Frankfurt (Oder) for making decisions on the student bursary applications in 2010.

Also on the same topic of student bursaries, there is the issue of how to help people from developing countries consider coming to the conference. It is suggested that we potentially advertise bursaries for them too, or offer a lower registration fee or a fee waiver.

5. Report from Adam Kendon

Adam Kendon, editor of the journal Gesture, provides a report on the state of the journal.

Kendon reports that GESTURE is now in its fourteenth year of publication. However, the journal is now somewhat behind schedule. Two issues of Volume 13 have appeared, and Vol. 13 no. 3 will appear very shortly.

Kendon reports that he has been able to accept, so far, three papers for Volume 14, No. 1, but needs two more before it can be published. At the present time there are 11 papers out for review or awaiting revision, so the hope is that there will be some more acceptable papers soon.

This delay in publication is mainly due to the continued rather low rate of submission of papers, which means that a backlog of accepted papers cannot be built up. The review process also sometimes takes a great deal of time. Nevertheless, Kendon states that of the papers that have published in this period several are, in his opinion, of considerable interest and offer new insights and new thinking.

Kendon says that he would once again like to commend the work for the journal undertaken by Bertolt Fessen. It is he who prepares the copy for the press and who coordinates corrections to the proofs. The journal completely depends on his work for the final production of each issue.

According to the publisher, John Benjamins, in 2013 there were 136 individual subscriptions to the journal, and there are now 216 such subscriptions. Benjamins also includes GESTURE among a package of its journals that it offers for electronic subscription to institutions. This means that the journal is available electronically at more than 1000 libraries worldwide - which means that the journal is now very widely available in electronic form.

Kendon then discusses the question of how the Journal is indexed. He states that it is indexed in ten different indexes worldwide. These include SSCI; Socialsci Search, Journal Citation Reports/Social Sciences; Current Contents/Social and Behavioral Sciences; Arts and Humanities Citation Index; Current Contents/ Arts and Humanities; Cultures, Langues, Texte; IBR/IBZ; Language Abstracts; Psychinfo.

Kendon then says that, since his last report, all of Volume 12 has been published: issue No.1 of Vol. 12 appeared in September 2012, the other two appeared in 2013, and in 2013 one issue of Volume 13 appeared. This year, 2014, we have published one further issue of Volume 13, and 13:3 is to appear very shortly.

Kendon then discuss the topic of submissions to the journal. Between August 2012 and June 2014 61 submissions were received: this works out at a rate of 2.7 submissions a month - a rate very similar to the previous period Kendon reported on last time. Of these 61 papers, 31 were, or are about to be, published, 19 were rejected (two declined), and there are 11 papers awaiting revised versions or currently being reviewed.

Following a suggestion made at the Lund AGM, Kendon invited all the plenary speakers to submit their presentations for publication in GESTURE. Two did so (Michael Corballis and Wendy Sandler) and their pieces were published. One Special Issue also (to be published in 13:3) originated from an organized session at the Lund meeting.

Of the 31 articles published, two were invited pieces, one was an extended commentary on another paper by the editor. All others were scrutinzed by the editor and reviewed by outside reviewers (in most cases by two reviewers, but sometimes Kendon managed with only one reviewer. He states that this happens if one reviewer takes too long, and he feels that the one review he has is sufficient to make a decision; it also happens that a single review is enough, in the case of papers of clear quality).

Only two book reviews were published in this period. Kendon states that he would like to have more book reviews. If possible, he prefers to publish review essays, but shorter reviews would also be very useful.

Kendon concludes his overview of the present state of the Journal. He states that it is little changed in vigour from the previous period. As he said in 2012, one of the problems the Journal faces continues to be that the study of “gesture” has become popular and more acceptable as a respectable academic topic. As a result, scholars have a much wider choice of journals to which to send their articles. He says that many may perhaps prefer to publish in a journal perceived to have a broader appeal, such as a journal dealing with cognition and language more broadly.

Nevertheless, the occasional feedback he gets is that the material published in the journal is well regarded and, increasingly, he sees papers from the journal being cited.

Kendon continues by stating that he is also editor of the book series GESTURE STUDIES, which is published in association with the journal. He says that this series continues to enjoy reasonable publishing success, but that no new submissions have been received lately. One submission was sent in last year, critically reviewed, and a revision of that submission is now expected in September 2015.

So far the series has published six volumes. These include:

  1. Gesture and the Dynamic Dimension of Language - Susan Duncan, Justine Cassell, Elena Levy, eds. Papers for a Festschrift for David McNeill on the occasion of his retirement from teaching. Published 2007.
  2. Gesturecraft - The manu-facturing of meaning. By Jurgen Streeck. Published 2009, also published as a paperback.
  3. Metaphor and Gesture. Alan Cienki and Cornelia Muller, eds. 2008.
  4. Integrating Gestures. Gale Stam and Mika Ishino. A collection of contributions based on papers presented at the 2008 ISGS meeting in Evanston, Illinois. Published in 2011. Also as e-book.
  5. Elements of Meaning in Gesture. Genevieve Calbris. Published in 2011. Also as e-book.
  6. Developments in Primate Gesture Research. Simone Pika and Katja Liebal, eds. Published 2012. Also as an E-book.

With regard to this series, Esther Roth of Benjamins writes “As of April 2014, we have our own e-platform (see where individuals can buy an e-version of all of our publications (journals as well as books). Also, we sell the paperback e-version of our books via GooglePlay (see”

6. By-law changes

Kita points out that 2/3 of the general assembly needs to be in favour in order for a change to a by-law to be made.

First of all, Kita proposes removing mention of the ‘scientific committee’ from all by-laws. His explanation is as follows. The scientific committee (hereafter also referred to as SC) ‘serve as advisors and peer-reviewers of proposals and abstracts’ for ISGS conferences. The SC is supposed to be elected by the ISGS general assembly. The SC then elects the executive board of the ISGS. However, in practice, we never follow this process: this is because the SC is never formed early enough to be elected by the general assembly. As a result, it can’t elect the ISGS executive board. Hence, it would be better to remove all mention of the SC in the by-laws.

Kita moves to change the following part of Article 9 (concerning the SC of ISGS conferences):

‘The local organizers of ISGS conventions form a scientific committee to serve as advisors and peer-reviewers of proposals and abstracts submitted for the convention. The composition of the Scientific Committee is approved by the Executive Committee. The Scientific Committee also includes all the members of the Executive Board.’

Kita moves for this to now read as follows:

‘The local organizers of ISGS conventions form a scientific committee to serve as advisors and peer-reviewers of proposals and abstracts submitted for the convention. All members of the Executive Board are members of the Scientific Committee.’

This move receives almost unanimous approval from the assembly.

Kita then moves to remove the following paragraphs from article 9 of the by-laws:

9.1 The Scientific Committee elects the Executive Board of the ISGS. It advises the Executive Board in all relevant matters and evaluates its achievements in realizing the goals of the ISGS.

9.2 The members of the Scientific Board promote contacts with their respective countries and areas of gesture studies.

9.3 The Scientific Committee is elected by the General Assembly according to the modalities formulated in paragraphs 8.7 – 8.9. Its members can be reelected an unlimited number of times.

9.4 The Scientific Committee holds office until the General Assembly is called to a close. Immediately following this closing, the newly elected Scientific Committee takes office and remains in office until the next General Assembly is called to a close

9.5 Meetings of the Scientific Committee are called together and headed by the ISGS President. Between General Assemblies they take place as often as necessary. Upon written request of at least one third of its members, a meeting of the Scientific Committee must be called together by the ISGS president.

This move receives the almost unanimous approval of the assembly.

Kita moves to remove the following paragraphs from article 8 (which pertains to the General Assembly):

8.7 The General Assembly elects the Scientific Committee of the ISGS.

8.8 At each General Assembly, the current Executive Board presents the list of candidates for the new Scientific Committee. These candidates are voted on individually by the General Assembly.

This move receives the almost unanimous approval of the assembly.

Kita moves to remove the following paragraph from article 10 (which pertains to the Executive Board).

10.5 In electing the Executive Board the Scientific Committee must secure that a broad range of research areas and geographic continents is represented by the Executive Board as a whole. In particular, the Executive Board should include at least one person each from Asia, Africa or Australia, Europe, North America and South America.

He moves to have it replaced by the following text:

Self- and other-nomination to become members of the Executive Board are solicited prior to the ISGS conference, in which the term of the Executive Board ends. At the General Assembly of ISGS conferences, members vote for each post in the Executive Board. When there is only one candidate for a post, the candidate will be elected if there are more yes-votes than no-votes. When there are multiple candidates for a post, the candidate with the most votes will be elected. If nobody is elected to a post in the General Assembly, there will be an online vote by ISGS members at a later date.

This move receives the almost unanimous approval of the assembly; the exact wording of the new text is to be determined by the executive board.

7. Executive Board voted in

Prior to the ISGS General Assembly, an email was sent out by Mark Tutton to members of the ISGS, calling for anyone interested in self-nominating for the following positions:

No expressions of interest were received from any new candidates (i.e. outside of current post-holders) for the roles of vice president, secretary general, public relations manager and treasurer. All current holders of these four posts have expressed an interest in continuing their duties for a new mandate. However, Sotaro Kita has decided to step down from the role of president of the ISGS; Asli Ozyurek will take over this role for the new mandate of the ISGS Executive Board.

8. The next ISGS conference

The next conference is announced as taking place in Paris. There is no time to present the Powerpoint presentation of the proposed venue, which is the Sorbonne Nouvelle University (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3), Paris, France. The local organization of the conference will be headed by Professor Aliyah Morgenstern.

9. Conclusion of meeting

The meeting concludes rapidly at 1:30pm as a new parallel session is to take place in the room where the assembly is being held. There is no time to discuss how the ISGS acknowledges significant contributions to the field (fellows, prizes, etc).