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!

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?

Stamp out Racism graffiti, Eblana Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Auigust 2010. Image by Ardfern, via Wikimedia

Tumblr is an interesting place to observe social justice in action. It hosts networks of anti-racist bloggers who resist the everyday racisms they experience. But some people view this anti-racism as inauthentic. Why?

A selection of Indian food. Photo by Gillian Bowan.

Had your lunch? Why eating is such a serious matter in Bangalore – and how you can learn to navigate India through food.

​Promotional Models at Gamescon 2012, Cologne, Germany. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Why must “promotional model’ and “astrophysicist” be mutually exclusive categories? An insider looks at the hard work of performing gender.

A curious Norwegian cow. Photo by Lars_Pistasj via Flickr.

Before the Internet existed, humankind spent millennia pondering a question that cuts to the heart of what it means to be human. Do we people prefer dogs or cats?

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.

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.

Life imitating art? Reviewers bomb drone toy on Amazon

The average Amazon product review doesn’t include things like “You can’t spell slaughter without laughter!” But the Maisto drone toy has been targeted by review bombers seeking to end its production. How effective have they been?

A target for advertising. By Ⅿeagan from Tulsa, OK, United States (Julie Uploaded by calliopejen1) [CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Contrary to popular belief, individual behaviour can be far more predictable than mass behaviour. Why? Because today’s technology means that advertising can be tailored to the individual.

Medals are used to mark all kinds of milestones, including war and sport. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

“But we agreed that ceremony and ritual are so foolish,” said Yankel to his daughter Brod in Jonathan Safran’s Everything is Illuminated as she took her place as the Float Queen in their town’s annual parade.