The Anthropology of Numbers

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Overview

Why do the Nuer stipulate forty cattle in brideprice? Why is the number ten so important in North American mythology? What does the anthropologist Clifford Geertz really mean to say when he talks about the correspondence of Balinese time cycles? Numbers play some part, often quite central, in almost all known cultures, yet until now the subject has never been examined in detail from an anthropological perspective. This book is the first attempt to find out how people in a wide range of diverse cultures and in different historical contexts, use and understand numbers. The opening chapters provide the basis for looking at the way numbers operate in different contexts, by looking at the logical, psychological and linguistic implications. The following eight chapters deal with specific themes: ethnoscience, politics, measurement, time, money, music, games and architecture. The final chapter relates such operations to social, economic and cultural factors.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'The book makes a lively, well-informed, and thoroughly unconventional contribution to its subject ... it should and will be read by any with an interest in this branch of anthropology.' R. H. Barnes, Anthropos

'Crump has soothed, stimulated, and occasionally transported me in the contemplation of numbers and mysteries.' Eric Korn, The London Review of Books

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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of illustrations; Preface; Acknowledgements; 1. The ontology of number; 2. The cognitive foundations of numeracy; 3. Number and language; 4. Cosmology, society and politics; 5. Economy, society and politics; 6. Measurement, comparison and equivalence; 7. Time; 8. Money; 9. Music poetry and dance; 10. Games and chance; 11. Art and architecture; 12. The ecology of number; Notes; References; Index.

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