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FT-264762-19

Molly Jeanne Farrell
Ohio State University (Columbus, OH 43210-1132)
New World Calculation: The Making of Numbers in Colonial America

Research and writing leading to publication of a book on the role of numbers and numerical thinking in colonial America.

What new possibilities arise if we embrace mathematics as a form of humanist inquiry? How would we tell stories differently if we came to see data as a means of personal expression? My project, New World Calculation: The Making of Numbers in Colonial America, investigates these questions in the context of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century colonialism. When enslaved, indigenous, and colonizing peoples interacted, they staged an encounter between groups who were each highly technically skilled mathematicians and held distinctive beliefs about what numbers are and what work they did in the world. At the same time, the tremendous accounting work required to support the economies of Atlantic slavery and settler colonialism, cultivated new forms of bookkeeping and ideas about the reliability of numerical facts. All of these developments led to shifting relationships to numbers and turned colonial spaces into testing grounds for forging novel forms of numerical thinking.

Project fields:
American Literature; American Studies; History of Science

Program:
Summer Stipends

Division:
Research Programs

Totals:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/3/2019 – 8/2/2019