Questions on African Fractals ch 11-12


1)     pp. 179-180 What are the two potential “pitfalls” in discussing the implications of African fractals?

2)     180-181 Contrast the unity position of Asante and Asante vs the diversity position of Appiah and Mudimbe.

3)     181 How would Geertz address the unity/diversity debate using thick description? 181-182 How does the author’s “thin description” address the debate?

4)     182 Explain Wittgenstein’s “family resemblance” concept applied to African societies.

5)     183-4 Contrast the old anthropological technique of “participant observation” with the author’s “participant simulation.”

6)     185-6 Why is there a lack of emphasis on intentional knowledge systems in traditional anthropology? How does Koloseike’s model for mud terraces illustrate the problem?

7)     187 What is wrong with claims that ancient knowledge systems reveal an understanding of subatomic physics?

8)     187-188 Contrast primitivist and orientalist forms of racism.

9)     188 Contrast “sameness” and “difference” as oppositional political strategies. Which is used in the “Afrocentric” emphasis on ancient Egypt?

10)189 Why is the strategy of sameness in the “Afrocentric” emphasis on ancient Egypt a problem?

11)192-193 What is the danger in Rousseau’s romantic view of analog representation?

12)193-194 How did the romantic view of analog systems in African culture create a problem in the 1960s? Why didn’t the postmodernism of the 1970s compensate for that?

13)194-195 What is Foucault’s postmodern critique of humanism? How does the case of Tanazian women’s housing illustrate a humanist analysis? How does the case of Songhai architecture illustrate Foucault’s postmodern critique of humanism?

14)195-196 What was Rene Descarte’s view of fractal architecture? What does this suggest about the use of Cartesian grids in Euro-American city layouts?

15)194-195, 197 How does Karen Blixen’s description of architecture in Out of Africa and the Ibo tradition of autonomy illustrate Foucault’s postmodern critique of humanism?

16)197-198 What does the fractal structure of racial redistricting patterns in the US suggest about those communities? Would this fractal be better modeled as Diffusion Limited Aggregation or a geometric algorithm?

17)199-200 How does Paul Gilroy make metaphorical use of fractals in his postmodernist analysis of the African diaspora?

18)200-202 Explain the idea of fractals as a political metaphor in Tswana women’s murals and Shammas’ novel Arabesques.