n. Mathematics as practiced by non-Western ethnic groups and marginalized groups within Western society.

2003

Starting in 1993, he traveled across Africa on a Fulbright scholarship to investigate evidence of fractals in windscreens, carvings and textiles. He explored villages — once leaning precariously out of a small airplane to take pictures of layout patterns. His resulting book, "African Fractals," argues for a mathematical intelligence in African design more complex than generally appreciated.

Eglash's research fits in squarely with "ethnomathematics," a term coined in the '80s and usually used to describe the mathematical practices of smaller or indigenous cultural groups. While ethnomathematicians have studied Mayan calendars and even boomerang flights, a unifying theme is an emphasis on mathematical accomplishments outside the Western canon.

Advocates see ethnomathematics as a useful way to make math more expansive and relevant to students from different backgrounds. Critics characterize it as a diversion from numbers that could lead to softer standards.

Eglash's research fits in squarely with "ethnomathematics," a term coined in the '80s and usually used to describe the mathematical practices of smaller or indigenous cultural groups. While ethnomathematicians have studied Mayan calendars and even boomerang flights, a unifying theme is an emphasis on mathematical accomplishments outside the Western canon.

Advocates see ethnomathematics as a useful way to make math more expansive and relevant to students from different backgrounds. Critics characterize it as a diversion from numbers that could lead to softer standards.

1995

Ethnomathematics — the general name mathematician Ubiratan D'Ambrosio of Brazil coined for this study of the concepts, practices, and artifacts through which we discover mathematical elements among peoples living outside or on the margins of Western culture — teaches us to look at "exotic" forms of mathematics as an intrinsic element of the civilizations in which they have flourished, well worth studying for their own sake.

1985 (earliest)

Ethnomathematics [is] the maths practised among cultural groups such as national-tribal societies, labour groups, children of a certain age bracket, professional classes and so on.