In the early 1960s, Ursula Le Guin wrote ‘The Masters’, a short novel that offers a sharp contrast to the ‘maths for all’ discourse of contemporary mathematics education reforms. Le Guin writes of a world – Edun – where ‘mathematical prohibition’ is law. Mathematical reason is banned for all people by the Priests of Edun, and failure to obey is punishable by death. Despite the threat of this totalitarian anti-math regime, some citizens create a collective heterotopia in which they practice mathematics in secret. Le Guin’s story is an opportunity to conduct a thought experiment: ‘what if maths became forbidden?’ This ‘what if’ experiment (Haraway 2016) allows us to consider how statements such as ‘maths for all’ or ‘no to maths’ are grounded in rationalisations that construe mathematical subjectivity as a determined actor for citizen agency in contemporary societies. The paper suggests that we need to move beyond a ‘maths for all’ or ‘no to maths’ dichotomy by interrogating how they both operate as ‘states of exception’ around politics of fear producing in/exclusions.
"The Unbearable Lightness of Dis|appearing Mathematics: Or, life and reason for the citizen at times of crisis,"
The Mathematics Enthusiast: Vol. 15
, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarworks.umt.edu/tme/vol15/iss1/3
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)