Barbara J. King is Professor of Anthropology at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. Her research focuses on communication and cognition in primates; King and her students currently study ontogeny of gesture in captive gorillas, and completed a study on the same topic in captive bonobos. They film social interactions between great apes that are mediated by gesture and body movement, and analyze these interactions using dynamic-systems theory (DST). A key theoretical concept in DST is that of co-regulation, the idea that communication, rather than being reducible to the process of transmitting ‘signals’ from a sender to a receiver, is created by social partners together as each mutually adjusts his actions to the other during unpredictable, contingent interactions.

Among King’s publications are The Information Continuum (1994) and two edited volumes, The Origins of Language (1999) and Anthropology Beyond Culture (with Richard G. Fox, 2002). With co-author Stuart Shanker, she has two articles in press, using DST to analyze great ape gesture (one in Anthropology Theory, the other in Behavioral and Brain Sciences). As a Guggenheim Fellow for the academic year 2002-03, she is writing a book about "the dynamic dance" of great ape social communication.

King is currently on the editorial board of Sign Language Studies. The Teaching Company selected her to create and teach Roots of Human Behavior, an audio- and video-course, released in 2001; her second course, Biological Anthropology: Humans in Evolutionary Perspective was taped in summer 2002 and will be released before the end of the year. King’s other teaching honors include the Virginia State Council of Higher Education’s Outstanding Faculty Award (1998) and being named one of William and Mary’s University Professors for Teaching Excellence (1999-2002).