Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 80, Issue 1–2, pp 133–152 | Cite as

Diagram, gesture, agency: theorizing embodiment in the mathematics classroom

  • Elizabeth de Freitas
  • Nathalie SinclairEmail author


In this paper, we use the work of philosopher Gilles Châtelet to rethink the gesture/diagram relationship and to explore the ways mathematical agency is constituted through it. We argue for a fundamental philosophical shift to better conceptualize the relationship between gesture and diagram, and suggest that such an approach might open up new ways of conceptualizing the very idea of mathematical embodiment. We draw on contemporary attempts to rethink embodiment, such as Rotman’s work on a “material semiotics,” Radford’s work on “sensuous cognition”, and Roth’s work on “material phenomenology”. After discussing this work and its intersections with that of Châtelet, we discuss data collected from a research experiment as a way to demonstrate the viability of this new theoretical framework.


Gesture Diagram Agency Embodiment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Adelphi UniversityGarden CityUSA
  2. 2.Simon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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