Mathematics is not ‘European’. It doesn’t need to be decolonised

here is an ongoing debate about the need to decolonise mathematics. Some argue that mathematics has been dominated by Western perspectives and that we need to incorporate more diverse cultural approaches to the subject. Others contend that mathematics is universal and objective, and therefore does not need to be decolonised.

As a mathematician, I believe that mathematics is not inherently ‘European’ or ‘Western’. Mathematics is a universal language that has been developed and contributed to by people from all over the world. From ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian mathematicians to modern-day scholars from diverse backgrounds, mathematics is a truly global field.

The notion that mathematics needs to be decolonised suggests that it is currently dominated by colonial or Eurocentric perspectives. However, mathematics is based on logical principles and proofs, not cultural ideologies. The Pythagorean theorem, differential equations, and group theory are not ‘European’ concepts – they are mathematical truths that can be understood and applied by anyone, regardless of their cultural background.

That being said, it is important to acknowledge the diversity of mathematical contributions from around the world. There is a rich history of mathematical developments in non-Western cultures, from Indian number systems to African geometric patterns. These contributions should be recognised and celebrated as part of the global heritage of mathematics.

However, this does not mean that we need to ‘decolonise’ mathematics. Rather, we should strive for greater diversity and inclusion in the way mathematics is taught and practised. This can involve incorporating diverse cultural examples and perspectives into mathematics education, as well as promoting opportunities for people from underrepresented groups to pursue careers in mathematics.

In conclusion, while mathematics itself is not ‘European’ and does not need to be decolonised, the field can benefit from greater diversity and inclusion. By recognising the global nature of mathematical contributions and promoting inclusive practices, we can work towards a more equitable and enriching mathematical community.