Senior Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology


Sociology and Anthropology

Faculty Advisor(s)

Hillary Crane

Subject Categories



This study explores the interaction between culture, language, and mathematics through the experiences of multicultural individuals in the United States as they learn mathematics in English as a second language. Regarding mathematics as a fundamental a-cultural truth hides the role that cultures have played in its construction. This study critically examines this perspective through the contradicting experiences of multicultural individuals shared in qualitative interviews. I focus on the power relations implicit in not only the Standard English of the classroom, but also the standard forms of mathematics that students must learn to succeed, and the effects that this power has on student comprehension and on students as subjects. The students described their mathematics experiences largely in the form of struggles that extended into conflicts with their own identities as they confronted their differences and conformed to the dominant form of mathematics that they learned at school in Standard English. Educators must acknowledge the effects of the standardization of math in the classroom when educating students and, in turn, avoid devaluing students like those in my study who struggle without knowing why.

Included in

Anthropology Commons