Fractal Yams and Bifurcated Carrots

I just found this website called bifurcated carrots and was reminded to last year's controversy at my uni regarding one professor's presentation entitled "The Fractal Yam: Fractal Recursion and Agency in the Trobriands"


As Jim Fox and his collaborators on the Comparative Austronesian Project have amply demonstrated, the arboreal idiom of ‘base’, ‘branch’ and ‘tip’ animates the origin structures of precedence of many if not most societies of the Austronesian world. Less attention has been directed at indigenous elaborations of base-branch-tip in other cultural and social domains of the region. This paper traces the ramifications of base-branch-tip articulating numerous dimensions of the culture and social organization of Northern Kiriwina in the Trobriand Islands (PNG). Based on recent ethnographic enquires at Omarakana, the site of Malinowski’s original fieldwork, this paper argues that the sequential recursiveness of base-branch-tip across North Kiriwinan contexts is fractally structured – borrowing a notion from chaos theory. The production of every ‘tip’, in other words, becomes the condition or ‘base’ of further base-branch-tip transformation, and so on. In this way, base-branch-tip recursions in the Trobriands serve as the cultural template for social action, or ‘action scenarios’. Re-examining a number of Trobriand cultural contexts as enchained base-branch-tip transformations sheds new interpretive light on many topics of long-standing anthropological interest: e.g. the production, display and exchange of yams and other values, the classification of village and garden spaces, human procreation, the relation of dala ‘subclan’ to valu ‘village’, sagali mortuary de-conception, the nature of chiefly agency, kula exchange, and villagers’ relations with baloma spirits of the dead.

So I wondered, if fractal yams are key to understanding Melanesian society, symbolically speaking of course.....could bifurcated carrots hold the understanding anglo-saxon cultures...or would that be reading too much into a carrot?


    Mandelbrot parsnips?

    Years ago I got a BS in Mathematics, and chaos theory was one of my favorite classes. I suppose that was one of the reasons for naming my blog what it is.

    What is it about us math geeks that makes us care about what we eat?


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