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?

The author as a hippie. Copyright held by Ted Polhemus.

Thanks to the Baby Boomers, fashion markets today are youth-obsessed. But are the youth really still where it’s at? Do they resent being labelled “youth”? Maybe it’s time to re-think our marketing–and our understanding of society.

Lost in Translation?

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

Sinking person

Why do we say that we ‘feel up’ when we feel happy, but when we are sad we ‘feel down’? Metaphors we live by.

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.

Farts can be sacred when you put your heart into it. By Bart Everson [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Around the world, farts incite hostility, laughter, and embarrassment. Why? Is it the foul odor, the explosive sounds, the suggestion of shit? A cross-cultural exploration of breaking wind.

Urumqi: Capital city of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China. Photo by Sophia Slavich, taken June 2013.

What would you associate naan bread, headscarves, mosques and desert bazaars with? Meet the Uyghurs, ten million Turkic Muslims living on China’s western periphery.

Camera sketch by ShakeHatThing, via DeviantArt.

In his previous two posts, copywriter McCreery asked “What is creativity?” and “How does it happen?” He now addresses creativity’s politics and perks through the lens of a Canon advertisement.

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.