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Helen Verran
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The text of a lecture given in 1992 atUniversity of South Australia describing the Garma Maths Curriculum developed for Yolngu Schools in north east Arnhem Land
Helen Verran
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Three chapters in this book detail a conventional constructivist study of contemporary life. A second lot of three chapters, conduct a scrupulous review of the actual fieldwork conditions inflicted upon her informants and of the records of the exchanges with them...Verran then advances intriguing insights into Yoruba verbal (discourse) and nonverbal behaviour. Objects (which are the "objects of" numbering, after all) are anything but static, spatiotemporal particulars posited as out there in a world waiting to have the correct qualities attributed to them in conventional subject-predicate form. The way the Yoruba verbalize their interactions with things virtually obliterates the conventional Western distinction between subject and object and substitutes for it a world of dynamic objects (human and non- human) that actively display their natures on the basis of performative actions. On the basis of both human and nonhuman bodies acting and interacting in this world (including the activity of counting objects that manifest themselves as countable), the Yoruba discover it is possible for them to manifest themselves in a variety of different ways. In other words, the ability to "be" what they become in different circumstances is invested in objects as much as in subjects (both are bodies) rather than, as tends to be the case in Western thought, where a grossly overintellectualized subject "understands" the object. Grammatically, when such phenomena are vocalized (including numbering), preference is given to verbs and adverbs (rather than predicated adjectival qualities, as in the English). An alternative ontology or metaphysics is involved, one tailored to a world in which performance, action, and manifestation are privileged.
Helen Verran
added 2 research items
Number studies have featured often in past STS scholarship. We offer six papers each of which we see as broaching a novel issue in STS number studies. They attend to a very wide range of sociotechnical situations where numbers and/or algorithms feature. Contributors reflect on the analytic framing they have been using to make their STS number study and to comparatively articulate the analytic affordances it offered. This SI, then, is concerned to find out how contemporary number studies have been deploying new analytics that are emerging in STS.
Helen Verran
added 2 research items
Working within the framework of a Wittgensteinian view of number, I exp the learning of English speaking and Yoruba speaking children as they work towards mean ful use of number names. I find that English speaking children and Yoruba speaking child appropriate different types of concepts in their development towards number use. The conc differ because the types of material objects that English speakers and Yoruba speakers tal differ. It seems that monolingual Yoruba speaking village children might be slower in apprc ating concepts associated with number use in Yoruba than their bilingual compatriots monolingual English speaking children, and that the bilingual children's learning is enhance their bilingualism.
If we start with the view that doing mathematics is making mathematical meanings using certain forms of discourse, it follows that language considerations are profoundly involved in mathematics education. Aboriginal‐Australian communities use language in characteristic ways and the values so encoded stand in a particular social relation to the values encoded in the mathematical registers of English; acknowledging this is an important first step in developing mathematics programmes for Aboriginal children. Within this framework the problems of mathematics education for Aboriginal‐Australian children are analysed.
Helen Verran
added 2 research items
A mathematics lesson in a school recently moved to new, cyclone-proofed buildings at the top of a hill behind the Yolngu Aboriginal settlement of Yirrkala in the far northeast of Australia’s Northern Territory. The teacher, Mandawuy Yunupingu, a young man in his final year of BA(Ed) studies, is set to become, in 1989, the first Aboriginal school principal in Australia. He has chosen to teach this lesson in the school hall, which doubles as a basketball court. He wanted a space not cluttered by school desks. Watching an edited excerpt of a video (Yirrkala Community School, 1996c) of this lesson in 1998, I am struck again by the certainty that Mandawuy and his pupils evince over the subject matter of this lesson, It is a certainty arising from familiarity. The children, learning the details of the system of rules being presented to them, are certain enough to ask questions. Familiarity with the subject matter can be seen clearly in the body language — the postures, the ease of the interactions — even if sometimes the correct answers escape the children. The edited fragment of this lesson begins with Mandawuy seated on the concrete floor of the school hall — an open, roofed area — and the children grinning in delight, sitting around him in a circle.
A front page report in The Australian newspaper of 10th August 1994 began Cape York pastoralists and Aborigines have jointly called for state and federal governments to legislate … a form of statutory co-existence of title on pastoral leases … A marathon seven-hour meeting in the Queensland town of Coen last week … sought to address the uncertainty and financial difficulties flowing to Cape York pastoralists from the Wik people’s claim to a large area of Cape York, including 12 pastoral leases.
Helen Verran
added a research item
The meeting of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, held in London on 9th March 1886, passed a motion that the paper, ‘Notes on the Numeral System of the Yoruba Nation’, prepared by Adolphus Mann Esq., be taken as read. The published report of that meeting, which includes the text of Mann’s paper, does not enable us to be entirely sure of how Adolphus Mann Esq. came to make his notes, but there are indications that he had made personal observations of people actually using Yoruba numerals in the course of their trading.
Helen Verran
added 2 research items
With the advent of environmental ‘governance by commission’, associated with evidence-based policy and market mechanisms, there is a need to (re)imagine Australia's nature politics. I identify two distinct domains of nature politics – one associated with distribution of goods produced in nature, and another concerned with constituting nature itself. The paper offers two analytically distinct readings of a tender bids hearing to select a contractor to assemble a diagnostic design for a government funded project of river rehabilitation. The tool that enables these incommensurable accounts is a purposefully crafted ethnographic story of the hearing. These dual readings engage alternative framings in order to see alternative political domains. The first reading mobilises an orthodox relativising framing to show a familiar politics evident in the competition for the contract; a politics over the distribution of goods produced from nature. This can be read as a politics over valuing nature. The second reading, proposing an alternative nature politics that should be understood as sitting alongside, utilises an alternative analytic framing. It offers a reading of the tender bids hearing as a politics contesting the form of the entities that should order Australian nature. In concluding I propose that the juxtaposed alternative readings, analyses made with disparate explicit metaphysical commitments, which reveal separate but connected political domains, constitute a politics of imagination, and ask how to configure the analyst who can engage such a politics?
This paper examines the work that measures and values do in policy in the context of an epochal change in the relations between knowledge and policy in Australia. I tell a story of successive attempts to rehabilitate a dying Australian river. The first attempt employs policy as the application of theoretically justified natural knowledge about rivers and their environs. The second attempt occurs after the evidence-based policy era has dawned in Australia. The contrast shows that measures, values and facts about the dying river justified by epistemic practices have been displaced. In an era of evidence-based policy and governance through market mechanisms, measures and values speak to policy through designs that can be bought and sold. In order to be able to better describe this shift I develop an analytic vocabulary to give an account of the intensive properties of what I call enumerated entities, and link the shift to the move from a disciplinary to a control society.
Helen Verran
added a research item
A poster promoting policy change in Australia’s fisheries, which features a list of seven numbers in its effort to persuade, serves as occasion to do ontology. A performativist analytic is mobilized to show the mutual entanglements of politics and epistemics within which these numbers, agential in policy, come to life. Three distinct types of entanglement are revealed. Numbers have different political valences, and mathematicians need to attend to these in order to act responsibly as mathematicians.