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Body studies in mathematics education: diverse scales of mattering

Sinclair, N and de Freitas, E (2019) Body studies in mathematics education: diverse scales of mattering. ZDM - Mathematics Education, 51 (2). pp. 227-237. ISSN 1863-9690

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© 2019, FIZ Karlsruhe. This paper offers a survey of body studies in mathematics education. Building on earlier insights about the ‘embodied mind’, which focused primarily on individual, intact bodies, we focus on recent work that elaborates bodies as distributed and extended and fully implicated in socio-material ecologies of learning. The aim of this article is to map current trends in this domain, and to articulate some of the current challenges. Because bodies matter differently depending on the research perspective, and because they are studied at multiple scales of mattering (neurological, sensory-gestural, affective, social, institutional, national, etc.), there tends to be disparate insights across the field with little to no cross-fertilization. This paper aims to open up conversations across different theoretical approaches—and scales of mattering—so as to create a more expansive and inclusive agenda for body studies in the field of mathematics education. We have chosen to organise our survey around five themes that seem dominant in the literature, where key theoretical and methodological trends can be discerned. These are: (1) groups, systems, ecologies (2) affect, movement, sensation, (3) language-use and gesture, (4) dis/ability and power, (5) technology, technicity, and tools. We argue that these different approaches need to be in conversation with each other, to think across research contexts, problems and communities, so that new forms of inquiry and new insights can emerge.

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