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!

Kevin Yelvington at work in a Temecula winery, Califorina. Photo courtesy of Kevin.

Studying the wine industry seems like a sweet job. But anthropologist Kevin Yelvington went beyond wine tasting and worked alongside labourers in the vineyards. What did he discover?

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.

A dog all rugged up for cold weather. Photo by 玄史生, via Wikimedia Commons.

Love dogs? In Vancouver, you may have little choice. In this canine-crazy city, pooch parlours reign supreme, dogs slobber over food in supermarkets, and they are even allowed in the doctor’s surgery. It’s not just a matter of personal preference, it’s a culture.

"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.

Graffiti Art at Dinorwig Slate Quarry by Jack Murray (Used with kind permission)

Rock paintings: high art or 30,000-year-old graffiti? In a defunct rock quarry, climbers vie with spraycan-wielding artists for the right to public expression.

Changing attitudes or just a practical measure? Unisex toilets are becoming more common in many countries

Gender has become such a mainstream word that in some contexts it has become a misplaced substitute for sex. It as if people feel that it is no longer safe or politically correct to say the word sex. So what is the difference between sex and gender?

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.

Macklemore's feeling thrifty.

We live in a world–or so we’re told–in which we’re obsessed with the new. Shopping malls, glossy magazines, and catwalk parades encourage us to buy more new, shiny stuff. But Macklemore suggests that what’s old is new again.

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.

Too much rope? Photo by Flickr user Traveller_40

When isn’t cooperating a cultural option? Tugs-of-war in Japan.

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.

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.