ISGS: International Society for Gesture Studies

Minutes of the seventh conference of the ISGS in Paris, 2016

ISGS General Assembly
Wednesday 20th July 2016, at 13:30
in Amphitheatre B, Paris-Censier Campus
Université Sorbonne Nouvelle/Paris 3, France



1. Welcome and President’s report (Aslı Özyürek)

The President welcomed the members present and outlined her main activities for the Society since the last meeting. These included arranging candidates for the upcoming election, following up on requests that revisions be made to how the journal Gesture is run, seeking a host for the next ISGS conference, supporting the local organizers of the Paris conference, and initiating the procedures for the conference stipends.

2. Report from the Treasurer (Aslı Özyürek for Jana Iverson)

The following membership numbers were reported:

See item 6 below for further discussion on membership.

The following overview of the budget was reported (in US dollars):

  Credit Amount Debit Amount
Balance after ISGS 2014 $25,981.66  
Membership dues, 8/14-7/16 $19,981.65  
Payments to Benjamins for 2014-2016 journal subscriptions   $16,353.36
Expenses (e.g., domain name, web server)   $850.93
20 student travel awards for ISGS 2016 (plus PayPal fees)   $5,725.11
TOTAL $45,963.31 $22,929.40
Current Balance $23,033.91  

3. Report from the Vice President (Alan Cienki)

As with the previous conference in Lund, the Vice President volunteered to organize the procedures for disbursing the 20 stipends/bursaries that the ISGS made available to students/PhD candidates. Information that twenty stipends in the amount of 250 euros (the conference early registration fee for students) were available was distributed to all students accepted to give presentations at the conference. The stipend application from the 2012 ISGS student workshop was adapted and used and a Gmail account was set up to handle the applications.

52 applications were received. Priority was given to applicants from developing countries (based on the UN list) and those who had not received any previous funding to participate in a conference, resulting in the selection of 20 recipients. The procedures and their application were checked by the Treasurer, who then distributed the funds via PayPal (three individuals were paid in cash at the conference via the Vice President since they did not have access to PayPal). While it was not feasible this time due to time constraints, the next Board should arrange transfer of these funds to the local conference organizers in advance, so that stipend recipients will simply not have to pay the registration fee.

4. Election of new Board

The President introduced the candidates to the General Assembly. It was suggested from the floor that in future a more formal procedure be instituted for announcing the candidates in advance of the meeting with some information about them. This is something which the Board had considered, but which was not feasible due to lack of time. Each of the candidates introduced themselves briefly and voting was conducted by anonymous paper ballots. Ballots were counted on the side of the auditorium by the PR Manager with the assistance of two members of the Assembly. The results are reported in item 10 below.

5. Report from the Editor of Gesture (Adam Kendon)

The Editor reported that, as opposed to the situation in 2014, the journal had just about caught up with its publication schedule. Issue 1 of volume 15 has appeared, issue 2 is in production, and issue 3 is in preparation. However, because we had fallen behind by about nine months in 2014, Benjamins has re-set the schedule so that Volume numbers will now correspond to the number of the year preceding the year in which the Volume appears. Thus Volume 15 is appearing in 2016, Volume 16 will appear in 2017, and so on. Currently, we have a backlog of accepted papers: Volume 16, to appear in 2017, is already filled, with 1 regular issue and one special issue on pragmatic gestures constituting issues 2 and 3. All papers being accepted will now be assigned to Volume 17. Currently, there are about thirty papers in various stages of review or revision. It is likely that Issue 1 of volume 17 will be ready by the end of this year and the volume will be completed by the Spring of next year. Actual publication, however, will not be until 2018, due to the re-setting of the publication schedule that was explained above. Due to the rather long delay in the appearance of papers that this will create, we have begun to explore with Benjamins the possibility of publication upon acceptance in an on-line format. During the period August 2014 and July 2016 the journal received 95 submissions, a rate of almost 4 submissions a month, with an interesting variety of topics. This is a big improvement compared to the previous period when we had averaged 2.7 submissions per month.

Having edited the journal for 16 years, Adam Kendon said it is time to hand the job over to someone new. As of April 1, 2017, he will not be handling any new submissions (however, Kendon will continue as Editor of Gesture Studies, the companion book series). He announced his selection of the next editor, Sotaro Kita. The Editor elect thanked Adam Kendon for his years of dedicated work to the journal, for which he received an extended standing ovation from the members of the General Assembly (along with a bottle of fine Armagnac).

6. Discussion of membership fees and relation to John Benjamins

7. Report from Public Relations Manager (Mats Andrén)

The PR Manager made a plea for members to send additional content for the website. The President encouraged adding more visual elements to the site, such as those that had been part of the Society’s old website. The PR Manager also reported plans to make the website more mobile friendly as well as plans to better incorporate social media.

8. Proposal for next ISGS conference host (Heather Brookes)

A proposal was made by Heather Brookes to host the next ISGS conference in Cape Town, South Africa in 2018. The University of Cape Town was ranked as the top university in Africa by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and is one of three universities in Cape Town. The conference could be timed to follow the next International Congress of Linguists, which will take place there July 2-6, 2018. Besides being an appealing destination for conference delegates due to its natural environment and local cuisine, hosting the conference there would be beneficial to the university and local community, increasing the profile of gesture studies in Africa. It would be the first time the ISGS conference would be held in the southern hemisphere. A definite decision on feasibility will be made in a few months, but the proposal received a majority Yes vote from the Assembly by a show of hands.

A tentative proposal from Chicago to host an ISGS conference is being considered for 2020.

9. Discussion on language translation for deaf conference participants

In preparation for the Paris conference, there was considerable consultation with the ISGS Board and with the local organizing committee about how best to handle translation services for Deaf conference participants. Deaf members of the Assembly pointed out that International Sign is actually a pidgin language, varying in form according to context, and so does not provide the full access of a more established sign language (such as ASL, BSL, LSF, etc.). English has become the de facto international language in the scientific/scholarly world, so while speech-to-text transcription/captioning may be expensive, it would provide full access alongside interpreting in a sign language, such as International Sign. Perhaps in future conferences, text captioning could be provided alongside use of International Sign and whichever sign language is most appropriate for the local community of the conference site. In any case, reasonable accommodation for such interpreting should be put into the budget of the local organizers in advance.

10. Election results

At the end of the meeting the election results were ready for announcement:

Continuing on the Board:

The meeting was adjourned at 14:30.

Notes by Alan Cienki, ISGS Vice President, standing in for the Secretary General. Submitted on 25 July 2016.