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!

Age of Ambition by Evan Osnos

The book “Age of Ambition” by Evan Osnos sheds a fascinating light on China as it surges towards a leading role as a major global player. But there is much more going on than just economic development.

Monsters, superheroes, and babes on the cover of Space War no.29: Enchanted Planet, May 1978.

How can we tell complex stories while writing clearly and persuasively? A deep reading of science fiction provides some clues.

Urinators in India. Photos via basicshit.org: stop public urination, Flickr.

Public urination is a frequent and visible occurrence in many cities across India. Measures to prevent it have had mixed success. But what exactly is the harm?

Jack Kerouac Adler signpost, San Francisco, California. Photo by Dominic Simpson, via Wikimedia Commons.

While the Beat Generation’s influence has waned with time, in Brazil there has been a resurgence of interest in this group of misfits and their values.
Why Brazil, and why now?

Benchmark at All Saints church, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, copyright Michael Trolove and used under authority of the CreativeCommons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Collecting things isn’t just about haunting antique stores and garage sales. The built environment provides plenty of fodder for roaming enthusiasts, such as markers made for topographic surveys since the 19th century.

"Wheelchair on the Beach" by kris krüg via Flickr.

Why is it that disabilities, or how we react to them socially, are seldom mentioned in day-to-day conversations? Kastner explores studies of disability by anthropologist Joan Ablon.

A Naira in her natural environment. Photo by Celia Emmelhainz, Kazakhstan, February 2012.

Cultural groups are diverse. Yet one group that has not been studied in all its diversity is the Nairarbi, an information-working caste scattered through many societies in the modern world.

Boldoo ("DLOB") and DJ Munk. Photo by Lauren Knapp.

As the 1970s gave way to the 1980s, and youth throughout the Soviet states were demanding to join their Western counterparts, Mongolians picked up their own hand-made guitars and used rock music to call for a free society.

The Rastafari Flag

Smoking pot in the name of Jah might not actually that different to drinking wine for Jesus.

A human castle in Tarragona. Photo by Elizabeth Challinor

There’s nothing like an everyday object to shine a spotlight on human cooperation-or lack thereof. A toilet brush and a human castle materialize our expectations of other human beings.

Kimigayo, the national anthem of Japan. By Sakurambo, CC-BY-SA-3.0.

Japan is known for its distinctive culture, but its national anthem and many other popular songs have roots in Europe. How did music make its way to Japan – and stick?

By Ville Miettinen from Helsinki, Finland (Sex, Drugs & Dungeons & Dragons) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Are we really the hero in our own lives? Nick Mizer, an anthropologist who researches gaming and storytelling, argues that our narratives about our lives may not be so different from those in our games.