Embodied performances and footings in a young child’s spontaneous participation in bilingual Russian–Swedish storytelling

  • Ann-Carita Evaldsson Uppsala University
  • Olga Abreu Fernandes Uppsala University
Keywords: young children, bilingual storytelling, multimodal participation, footings, embodied performances, reenactments, multimodal interactional analysis


This study uses a multimodal interactional conversation analytic approach to explore a two-and-a-half-year-old child’s spontaneous participation in the activity of telling personal experiences in the context of everyday bilingual mother–child interactions. The selected data draw from a video-ethnographic study of children in Swedish families with Russian-speaking mothers. The analysis focuses on a young child’s storytelling activities as co-constructed interactional practices, calling attention to the role of embodied performances, affective alignments and footings as central for the tellability of a story. It is found that the child’s spontaneous tellings were orchestrated through shifts in footings involving embodied animations, reenactments and affect displays, including prosodic actions and exaggerations, dramatizations, laughter, sound effects, exploitations of language form and code-switching (Russian–Swedish). Various keying resources (for affective embodied stances) were collaboratively produced to strengthen affective alignments and to heighten the emotional significance of the narrated event, framing it as a playful and imagined joint activity. The findings demonstrate how a reflexive kind of agency emerges whereby the child’s playful embodied performances and reenactments of past, present and imagined events provide a common ground for a jointly performed open-ended bilingual storytelling performance.

Author Biographies

Ann-Carita Evaldsson, Uppsala University

Ann-Carita Evaldsson is professor of education at Uppsala University. Her research combines ethnographic studies with ethnomethodological conversational analysis to investigate children’s everyday lives, peer language practices and language socialization across culturally diverse settings. Recent papers explore how children accomplish identities-in-interaction (gender, class, ethnicity, disability); multilingual practices and; the moral character of affect and stance in both child and adult controlled contexts (Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, Journal of Pragmatics, Linguistics and Education, Research on Language and Social Interaction, Routledge Handbook of Language and Identity).

Olga Abreu Fernandes, Uppsala University

Olga Abreu Fernandes works at the Department of Education, Uppsala University, Sweden. Her research concerns linguistic ethnography and family interaction, with a focus on multilingual practices, language socialization, relational and emotional aspects of family life.


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How to Cite
Evaldsson, A.-C., & Abreu Fernandes, O. (2019). Embodied performances and footings in a young child’s spontaneous participation in bilingual Russian–Swedish storytelling. Research on Children and Social Interaction, 3(1-2), 36-64. https://doi.org/10.1558/rcsi.37297