Book Review: African Fractals, by Ron Eglash

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African Fractals is an interesting book about ethno-mathematics in Africa. It is about about the presence of advanced mathematical concepts in traditional African cultures, and uses these findings as a way of empowerment for African cultures – diaspora included.

It is a risky move, because it accepts the presence of advanced mathematical concepts as a criteria for validating cultures or even – indirectly – ethnicities. So Ron Eglash’s argument is a two-sided sword that he tries to handle as carefully as possible. As Roderic Crooks said about this book: What would have happened if he had not found fractals or any other mathematical sophistication in Africa?

In his TED talk he resumes in 15 min the content of the book (althouth, it’s also worth to read the book review  and the book)


Eglash navigates these ethical issues with an extra-careful narrative style, which in addition to the good intention and some relevant insights (pointed out at the end of the book review) make the book a valuable resource.

Also, Eglash obtained his PhD in the History of Consciousness Department in UCSC, which can also explain the sophistication and progressiveness of his research and narrative.

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