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!

Creativity is a messy process, and not just in getting your hands dirty. Photo by Jennifer Rensel (Flickr: Let's paint!) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

People often think that creativity is done by creative individuals in moments of inspiration. In fact, creativity is a messy, political, social process. How are new ideas and inventions brought to light?

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?

A Young Man and a Lady, by Konstantin Somov (1916). Source: Wikimedia Commons (2011). Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Cougars – women who date younger men – became a media phenomenon in the 2000s. However, mainstream media’s discussion of them was largely based on myth. Here are some historical facts about age difference in couples.

Child receiving a vaccination. Photo by PV2 Andrew W. McGalliard [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A financial times journalist recently claimed that Twitter can help fight poverty because it fosters connectivity. Here’s Nik Pollinger’s take on why this point of view is wrong.

A polyamory logo. Photo by Own work (Ratatosk) [CC-BY-SA-2.0-de, via Wikimedia Commons

Two days of polyamorous workshops should have been a welcome breather from the monogamy-saturated, couple-centric environment of Central Europe. Why, then, did it feel like an overly-protective daycare facility for adults?

Monica Heller

Have you heard the latest talk about language – field language, conference language, journal language, theorizing language? A collaborative experiment is unfolding right now, and you can take part.

Logo for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi

As the Winter Olympics in Sochi have shown, mega-events involve mega-politics and a lot of myth-making. What did they reveal about the nature of the Russian self?

Susan D Blum

I have been thinking a lot lately about money and grades. Not for the reasons you may think: that I want more and better of both (or to “give” tough grades). But because they share interesting qualities.

Lost in Translation?

How hard can it be to work in Japanese advertising, anyway? Very, when things get lost in translation.

Trobriand cricket in action. Still from the film "Trobriand Cricket" by Garry Kildea and Jerry Leach

Cricket in the Trobriand Islands is different. There’s no limit to how many people can be in a team, players dress up in traditional costume, and the home team always wins. So, is it really a sport?