Who Counts?: The Mathematics of Death and Life after Genocide (Hardback)
  • Who Counts?: The Mathematics of Death and Life after Genocide (Hardback)
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Who Counts?: The Mathematics of Death and Life after Genocide (Hardback)

(author)
£92.00
Hardback 328 Pages / Published: 06/11/2015
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In Who Counts? Diane M. Nelson explores the social life of numbers, teasing out the myriad roles math plays in Guatemalan state violence, economic exploitation, and disenfranchisement, as well as in Mayan revitalization and grassroots environmental struggles. In the aftermath of thirty-six years of civil war, to count-both numerically and in the sense of having value-is a contested and qualitative practice of complex calculations encompassing war losses, migration, debt, and competing understandings of progress. Nelson makes broad connections among seemingly divergent phenomena, such as debates over reparations for genocide victims, Ponzi schemes, and antimining movements. Challenging the presumed objectivity of Western mathematics, Nelson shows how it flattens social complexity and becomes a raced, classed, and gendered skill that colonial powers considered beyond the grasp of indigenous peoples. Yet the Classic Maya are famous for the precision of their mathematics, including conceptualizing zero long before Europeans. Nelson shows how Guatemala's indigenous population is increasingly returning to Mayan numeracy to critique systemic inequalities with the goal of being counted-in every sense of the word.

Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 9780822359739
Number of pages: 328
Weight: 590 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 20 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"...I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in Guatemala, postgenocidal reconstruction, environmental justice movements, or the social embeddedness of economic rationality." -- Rebecca Nelson * Anthropology Book Forum *
"In the end, it is a meditation on both Guatemala and numbers that Nelson offers, and . . . for me her book succeeds on both counts." -- Douglas V. Porpora * American Ethnologist *
"Diane Nelson has a special talent for capturing Guatemala's complicated contradictions in artful and compelling ways.... Who Counts? is full of clever observations and insightful analysis. It is that rare academic book that is thoughtful and provocative while also delightful to read."
-- Edward F. Fischer * Bulletin of Latin American Research *
"Without sacrificing intellectual rigor, the book is written in a conversational tone, making it an enjoyable read.... Scholars who study truth commissions and reparations, as well as those who investigate lived experiences of imperialism and neoliberalism, will find the book especially useful. In general, the book is highly recommended for readers interested in how numbers and counting systems organize social life and shape our understanding of the world." -- Brandi Townsend * The Latin Americanist *
"A must-read for scholars of genocide, human rights, and Indigenous organizing throughout the Americas. . . . In this third book of what Nelson calls a genocide trilogy (263), she masterfully crafts an expansive analysis of Maya lifeways in precarious postwar Guatemala. Readers familiar with her previous work will recognize Nelson's almost dizzying ability to weave together seemingly disconnected and discrete quotidian experiences with divergent theories to render a cogent, layered analysis that is intensified with each page of her book. . . . An ethnography that will resonate throughout the Americas." -- Brigittine M. French * Ethnohistory *

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