Ethnomathematics

  • Marcia Ascher
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_8586

Ethnomathematics, as a field of inquiry, began in about 1970, although the term itself did not come into use until about 10 years later. Its basic tenet is that mathematical ideas are cultural expressions embedded within cultural contexts. The emergence or elaboration of mathematical ideas follows no necessary or universal path. The ideas that are stressed, their expressions, and their applications vary depending on the culture. Whether an idea arises within a culture or is stimulated by contact with another culture, it becomes enmeshed in the complex of ideas particular to the culture. This perspective is of particular importance because mathematics had long been viewed as culture‐free or culture‐neutral.

Ethnomathematics calls for a definition of mathematical ideas that is broader in scope than just those associated with modern mathematics. By modern mathematics we mean the category so designated by professional mathematicians worldwide and spread through Western‐style schooling....

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcia Ascher

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