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.

It's all the fault of Thomas Cook, who invented the guided tour in 1841. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

As recently as the 1980s, the cicerone was alive and well in England. Versions of this tour guide survive around the world. What are their shared traits, and why are they so insistent that us tourists will shower them with wealth?

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.

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.

The Praça do Comércio in Lisbon. Copyright by Gawain Lynch

Portuguese people insist that they are not at all like the Spanish: neither in food, language, nor behaviour. Is this true? If so, what makes them distinctive?

A celebration in downtown Lisbon. Photo by Dennis Zuev.

Is Portugal becoming more nationalistic in response to the financial crisis? The cancellation of Independence Day would seem to suggest not. But the streets tell a different story.

South by Southwest hipsters image, courtesy of Todd Dwyer (Flickr 2009)

Hipsters: meaningless “cool” or meaningful culture? Exploring the hipster mindset in a sympathetic fashion.

The ancient Romans had sanitation figured out, but were a bit low on privacy. Photo by Fubar Obfusco (en.wiki) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

There are more mobile phones than toilets in the world. But does this mean we have our priorities wrong? Here are five reasons why we can’t compare sanitation with communication.

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.