Cryptorows — 2019 - 2020


A self-portrat project exploring the research of Eglash, Ron & Bennett, Audrey. (2009) Their research explores the computational and educational possibilities in cornrows. To further engage in the research I’ve embodied the research, lived with the research and documented instances of the research on my own head and have started studies in self-documenting the research over the last couple of years. The abstract to Eglash & Bennett’s research can be found below along with supporting figures from their paper, Teaching with Hidden Capital.

Teaching with Hidden Capital: Agency in Children's Computational Explorations of Cornrow Hairstyles. Children, Youth and Environments.


1. Bourdieu and Passeron (1973) famously defined cultural capital as the accumulated cultural knowledge that confers power and status. Their original work explained many of the intangible advantages that allowed the upper class to obtain better status jobs, education, etc. Here we extend this concept to include "computational capital"—the concepts, skills, and other resources that facilitate participation in computing activities, education and careers. We posit that hidden sources of computational capital can be found in some cultural practices of disadvantaged groups, and that a suitable learning environment can make this capital available to its owners. In the study presented here, the cultural practice is cornrow hairstyles, and the learning environment is based on Cornrow Curves, a web applet that allows children to use math and computing principles to simulate the patterns of these braids. This paper analyzes the interactions of African-American children with Cornrow Curves, in particular their reflections on the relationship between their heritage identity and the experience of learning math and computing through cultural resources. We use Bennett's (2008) concept of "design agency" to describe the ways in which the students' creative explorations in this computational geometry converge with their cultural construction of the self.

ethnomathematics, culturally situated design tools, design agency, graphic design, culture 

1.  Exercise A

2.  Exercise B

3.  Exercise C

Citation: Eglash, Ron and Audrey Bennett (2009). “Teaching with Hidden Capital: Agency in Children’s Computational Explorations of CornrowHairstyles.” Children, Youth and Environments 19(1): 58-73. Retrieved 05/31/2020 from