Fractal Anthropology

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A fractal life is a key component in living as a human in modern technosocial society. In A Cyborg Manifesto, Haraway, "analyzes the cyborg, an integral being who is part human, part machine. Without explicit reference to fractal geometry, her vision is essentially fractal" (Haraway, 1985).

"She describes three crucial boundary breakdowns: human/animal, animal- human/machine, and physical/non-physical. She extends these examples to a long list of fractured identities -- self/other, mind/body, culture/nature, male/female, etc -- of political significance. This pathfinding analysis leads the way to a fractal method (the sandy beach) for the deconstruction of all binaries, and the reconstruction of self-images (and scientific categories) as fractal identities" [1].

Fractal Villages

"In 1988, Ron Eglash was studying aerial photographs of a traditional Tanzanian village when a strangely familiar pattern caught his eye.

"The thatched-roof huts were organized in a geometric pattern of circular clusters within circular clusters, an arrangement Eglash recognized from his former days as a Silicon Valley computer engineer. Stunned, Eglash digitized the images and fed the information into a computer. The computer's calculations agreed with his intuition: He was seeing fractals.

"Since then, Eglash has documented the use of fractal geometry-the geometry of similar shapes repeated on ever-shrinking scales-in everything from hairstyles and architecture to artwork and religious practices in African culture. The complicated designs and surprisingly complex mathematical processes involved in their creation may force researchers and historians to rethink their assumptions about traditional African mathematics. The discovery may also provide a new tool for teaching African-Americans about their mathematical heritage" [2].

For Eglash's paper, see African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design.

Further Reading