Bamana Sand Divination: Recursion in Ethnomathematics

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Abstract

Ethnomathematics can consider recursion in two senses of the word. Mathematically, recursion consists of iterated functions, a kind of discrete feedback loop. Anthropologically, recursion is used in reflexive ethnographic description in which modern analytic methods become part of their own investigation. By comparing the recursive structure of Bamana divination techniques to recursion in modern mathematics, we can investigate some of the complex relations that bind technology and culture in both modern and traditional contexts.

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