Popular anthropology for everyone. Exploring the familiar and the strange, demystifying and myth busting human culture, biology and behaviour in all times and places. Myths, music, art, archaeology, language, food, festivals, fun.


Welcome to the anthropocene!

A view of Stanford University Church called "I smell the first rain" by Peter Thoeny, Quality HDR Photography. Photo from Flickr.

Do people attend church because they believe, or do people believe because they attend church? T.M. Luhrmann uncovers the complexities of faith.

What's in your bag? 030/365 Woman's Handbag, by Christine und David Schmitt. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, Flickr.

Ask someone to tip the contents of their bags onto the table. What do you see? The results can be surprising. The things people carry say a lot about their society and culture, as well as their finances and personal preferences.

Walking differently but dreaming alike, by Ina Mar. Copyright Ina Mar and Anke-Maria Sander, ADAGP, Paris. The model, Anke-Maria Sander, 31 and mother of a beautiful 3-year old girl, has Friedreich's Ataxia, a degenerative, genetic, neuro-muscular disease, for which there is no cure. She uses a wheelchair since she was 15.

When mannequins modelled on people with disabilities were displayed in a Zurich store front, they caused shock–both to passers-by and the models themselves. But why should we react this way?

The ancient Romans had sanitation figured out, but were a bit low on privacy. Photo by Fubar Obfusco (en.wiki) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

There are more mobile phones than toilets in the world. But does this mean we have our priorities wrong? Here are five reasons why we can’t compare sanitation with communication.

The Irish giant Charles Byrne

The Irish are famous for their tall tales. Is this because they are a tall people? The lives of Ireland’s giants.

A ballerina pig invites conversation. Photo by Ralph Mills.

To someone exploring material culture, these museums of the just-past can be fertile hunting grounds, not for bargains but for insights into people’s dreams. Your knick-knacks can tell an archaeologist a lot about you and your community.

Photographing tourists taking photos at Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. Photo by David Thompson.

Today, when there are photographs of just about every single place on earth on the internet, you could easily make an album of an entire trip before you even leave your home. Why carry a camera?

The BIC for Her pen (Image from Amazon.com)

Banana slicers, unicorn meat, BIC for Her pens, steering wheel tables — all these Amazon products are subject to comedic reviews, reflecting our desire for the ridiculous and our relationships with products.

Comic Con poster. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Never has there been a more glorious moment to be a geek: once caricatured as socially awkward outsiders, geeks are now at the leading edge of style.

A shelter hidden in the forest in Brzeźnica-Kolonia, Poland. Photo by Dawid Kobialka.

The Cold War left a material legacy of ruins and memories in numerous European countries. This photo essay explores the abandoned bunkers, trenches, and ghost towns that remain in Poland.

An Animitas shrine in Chile, by Claudio Núñez from Santiago, Chile [CC-BY-SA-2.0]

How the dead help the living: Using words and art to tell two stories about the cult of the animitas in Chile.

A celebration in downtown Lisbon. Photo by Dennis Zuev.

Is Portugal becoming more nationalistic in response to the financial crisis? The cancellation of Independence Day would seem to suggest not. But the streets tell a different story.