Research News

Bullock to deliver keynote at Mathematics Education and Society Conference in Greece

March 28, 2017

UW-Madison’s Erika Bullock will be delivering a keynote speech at the International Mathematics Education and Society Conference taking place in Volos, Greece, April 7-12.

Bullock, an assistant professor of mathematics education with the School of Education’s No. 1-ranked Department of Curriculum and Instruction, will be giving a presentation titled, “Beyond ‘Ism’ Groups and Figure Hiding: Intersectional Analysis and Critical Mathematics Education.”

An abstract of Bullock’s research on this topic explains that “as global mathematics education has taken a critical turn -- particularly toward acknowledging class, and (less so) gender, and (even less so) race -- there has not been an equal effort to interrogate how these concepts interact within the complex constructions of identities, institutions, and ideologies. This creates an analytical vacuum because when humans engage with mathematics, they do so in the totality of their identities.”

Erika Bullock
The abstract continues: “What does it mean for critical mathematics education to exist in such a vacuum? What are the costs? What are the affordances?”

Bullock argues that “confronting the messiness of humanity through intersectional analysis facilitates the construction of new types of community within critical mathematics education for which the locus is justice.”

Bullock says that during her keynote she will be explaining intersectionality as a necessary theoretical tool that allows for a more complex approach to identity, while also highlighting the analytical power of intersectionality to move beyond individual or group identity toward the interrogation of institutions and systems of power.

“In the current global socio-political climate, intersectionality has received increased attention in scholarly and public spaces to address oppression’s compounding effects,” says Bullock.  “However, in mathematics education, and in critical mathematics education particularly, most discussion of oppression remains siloed based on what I call ‘isms’ – such as racism, sexism, ableism, capitalism, colonialism, heterosexism, nationalism, militarism, religious sectarianism. I argue that these separations are antithetical to the way that humans experience life and mathematics, and that it is not possible to achieve any sense of justice without considering these ‘isms’ in interaction.”

The theme of this year’s International Mathematics Education and Society Conference is, “Mathematics Education and Life at Times of Crisis.”  According to the conference website, the “economic and political crisis worldwide affects all aspects of life, including the ways people, and especially children and adolescents, experience and imagine (mathematics) education.”

The Mathematics Education and Society was established in 1998. The MES website explains that the organization was designed to “satisfy the need for a wider discussion of the social and political dimensions of mathematics education, for disseminating theoretical frameworks, discussing methodological issues, sharing and discussing research, planning for action, and developing a strong research network.”