FOM: wider cultural significance: ethnomathematics

John Baldwin jbaldwin at
Fri Mar 12 09:20:52 EST 1999

I have lost my naive belief that no one could be as crazy as their
opponents say they are so there are probably some people espousing
the views Steve mentions.  However,  `ethnomathematics'
I have actually seen is more of a flavor of emphasing the mathematical
background of various cultures.  I did hear one lecture from a person
who had been developing a language for teaching modern (elementary)
mathematics in Maori.  There were then real issues as to whether 
certain concepts had names in Maori.  The author was carefully
skating a line between philosophical assertions that I would find
as objectionable as Steve does and `just' talking about  linguistics.

On Thu, 11 Mar 1999, Stephen G Simpson wrote:

> Vladimir Sazonov 06 Mar 1999 11:23:20
>  > > some mathematicians and math educators in the United States are
>  > > now pushing the idea of ethnomathematics -- different mathematics
>  > > for different ethnic groups.
>  > 
>  > Is it serious?
> Yes.  In 1990's United States, ethnomathematics is proposed seriously,
> taught in publicly funded universities, etc.  Incredible and scary,
> but it is happening.
>  > By the way, I listened that Kolmogorov gave the following joke
>  > definition of woman's (in contrast to man's) logic:
> In 1990's United States this is no joke.  Feminist scholars have put
> forth a theory to the effect that `non-linear' female modes of
> reasoning are preferable to `linear' male modes of reasoning.  Also,
> postmodernists attack the `logo-phallo-centric' culture.
> -- Steve

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