Bernard J. Hibbitts; Assoc. Dean for 

Comm. & Info. Tech.; U. Pgh. School of Law
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Papers: Making Motions: The Embodiment of Law in Gesture
This article examines one of the unexamined "texts" of law: legal gesture, by which is meant any purposive bodily motion (especially, but not exclusively, of the arms or hands) that by convention signifies a legal change, condition or relation. The article surveys the functions of legal gesture, dividing those into eight distinguishable, but necessarily overlapping categories labeled "indicative", "ordinative", "evidentiary", "demonstrative", "communal", "mnemonic", "regulatory" and "psychological". Within each category, the author identifies and reviews particular functions which legal gesture has historically served and/or continues to serve in our legal system. The article concludes by suggesting that far from being a primitive or naive modality inherently inferior to writing, legal gesture is a sophisticated and powerful medium possessing a uniqued capacity to foster community, concreteness and bodily empowerment. To the extent that these ends and values are deemed worthy in a postmodern era, it may be appropriate to reform law by literally re-membering it.

Published in 6 Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues 51 (1995).
A copy of the full text of this article is available upon request.

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