The term ‘ethnomathematics’ has two distinct meanings currently in use. D’Ambrosio (1990), who coined the term, takes it to mean a general anthropology of mathematical thought and practice. In that sense, the word applies to the connections between mathematics and culture in every geographic area, every human group, and in every historical moment on earth. Ascher (1990), on the other hand, has defined ethnomathematics as the study of mathematical concepts in small-scale or indigenous cultures; ‘by and large, the indigenous people of the places that were “discovered’ and colonized by Europeans.’ This essay will explore the motivation behind these two definitions, and discuss the ways in which the discipline of anthropology can help to illuminate the need for both approaches.
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- Anthropological Perspectives on Ethnomathematics
- Springer Netherlands
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