How Diversity Makes Us Smarter

Creative Commons By Dr. Katherine W. Phillips / 09.18.2017 Paul Calello Professor of Leadership and Ethics Management University of California, Berkeley The first thing to acknowledge about diversity is that it can be difficult. In the U.S., where the dialogue of inclusion is relatively advanced, even the mention of the word “diversity” can lead to anxiety and[…]

What Makes People Cooperate with Strangers?

Credit: Alborzshawn, Flickr Creative Commons A new study finds that having a reputation for cooperation may be key to getting other people to cooperate with you. By Jill Suttie, Psy.D. / 10.05.2017 Human beings are among the most cooperative species on the planet. Yet it’s not always safe to cooperate with a stranger. What if[…]

An Amazonian Question of Ironies and the Grotesque: The Piaroa of Venezuela

Traditional Piaroa village The arrogance of cosmic deceit, and the humility of everyday life. By Dr. Joanna Overing / 06.20.2012 Emeritus Professor of Anthropology University of St. Andrews 1. The place of humour My strongest memories of Piaroa people of the Venezuelan Amazon Territory involve experiencing their humour. The ludic was vital to their everyday[…]

Wooden Sculptures from Nukuoro

Nukuoro Atoll, Micronesia / Archive: NASA, International Space Station By Dr. Fanny Wonu Veys / 09.08.2017 Anthropologist of Material Culture Curator of Oceania National Museum of World Cultures At the crossroads of cultures Nukuoro is a small isolated atoll in the archipelago of the Caroline Islands. It is located in Micronesia, a region in the[…]

Real Things and Why They Matter

Too much of our time in our hectic consumer society seems like “not life”—phony and artificial. / YES! Illustration by Fran Murphy In his new book, David Sax explains how giving into the lure of things like vinyl records and paperback books might actually make you happier. By Cecile Andrews / 09.04.2017 I went to the[…]

Combatting Stereotypes about Appalachian Dialects

The small city of Hazard, Kentucky, rests in the heart of Appalachia. AP Photo/David Stephenson By Dr. Kirk Hazen / 07.13.2017 Professor of Linguistics West Virginia University During the 2016 presidential election, broad support for Donald Trump came from most communities in Appalachia, where he received 63 percent of the vote. A great deal of national attention was[…]

Deep Roots of Community Resilience

Photo by Kaori Brand, UNU      By Dr. Robert Blasiak (left), Dr. Sana Okayasu (center), and Dr. Ikuko Matsumoto (right) / 08.13.2012 Blasiak: Research Fellow, Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Tokyo Okayasu: Associate Researcher, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies in Hayama, Japan Matsumoto: Associate Researcher, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies in Hayama, Japan Victor Hugo once wrote[…]

How the Village Feast Paved the Way to Empires and Economics

Peasant Wedding, 1567, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. / Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna By Dr. Brian Hayden / 11.16.2016 Emeritus Professor of Archaeology Simon Fraser University Feasts helped to transform egalitarian hunters and gatherers into the kinds of societies that laid the foundations for early states and even industrial empires. They created hierarchies and inequalities, the[…]

Fossil Discovery in Morocco Adds 100,000 Years to Homo Sapiens

Jean-Jacques Hublin, MPI-EVA, Leipzig By Dr. Matthew Skinner / 06.07.2017 Senior Lecturer in Evolutionary Anthropology University of Kent According to the textbooks, all humans living today descended from a population that lived in east Africa around 200,000 years ago. This is based on reliable evidence, including genetic analyses of people from around the globe and[…]

A New Festival in Madhya Pradesh Revives a Lost Indigenous Culture

The festival of Rani Kajal Mata / Screenshot from YouTube By Sangeeta Rane / 06.06.2017 Thousands of people have gathered in Verwada village in Barwani district to celebrate the newest festival in Madhya Pradesh – the festival of Rani Kajal Mata, an ancient, indigenous deity. The deity, a sacred rock, is the guardian goddess of the[…]

Experience a Culture in Its Own Setting

By Simon Yugler / 05.23.2017 Anthropologist Expansion of Consciousness or Cultural Appropriation? On an exceptionally sunny morning in Pisac, set in the Sacred Valley of Peru, I look out my window at the four blissed-out travelers, sprawled whimsically across the grass. They attended a full-moon Ayahuasca ceremony the night before, led by the well-loved ‘Sacred Valley[…]

Metaphors Be With You: A Cultural Analysis of Star Wars

By Dr. Lee Drummond / 03.09.2016 Professor Emeritus of Social and Cultural Anthropology McGill University [The mathematical physicist] von Neumann sometimes spoke of a “complexity barrier.” This was the imaginary border separating simple systems from complex systems. A simple system can give rise to systems of less complexity only. In contrast, a sufficiently complex system[…]

The Changing Nature of Sacred Spaces

The Multi-faith Chapel at Hebrew Senior Life / Newbridge On The Charles, Dedham, Massachusetts. Randall Armor, CC BY-NC-ND By Dr. Wendy Cadge / 04.26.2017 Professor of Sociology and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Brandeis University Congregational membership in the United States is slowly declining. Data from the General Social Survey show that 17 percent of[…]

‘Anumeric’ People: What Happens when a Language has No Words for Numbers?

A Pirahã family. / Photo by Caleb Everett By Dr. Caleb Everett / 04.25.2017 Andrew Carnegie Fellow Professor of Anthropology University of Miami Numbers do not exist in all cultures. There are numberless hunter-gatherers embedded deep in Amazonia, living along branches of the world’s largest river tree. Instead of using words for precise quantities, these[…]

Ecuador’s Indigenous Cultures: Astride Orality and Literacy

Cofán Dureno indigenous activist in the Ecuadorean Amazon. / Rainforest Action Network, Creative Commons By Dr. Jorge Gómez Rendón / 12.19.2013 Professor of Anthropology University of Amsterdam Indigenous Languages in Ecuador: Survival and Change Distribution of Quechua sub-groups. Kichwa is shown in light blue / Wikimedia Commons Ecuador is the smallest of the Andean countries[…]

Why Native Americans Consider Water Sacred

An activist at a protest rally at the White House against the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines in Washington, D.C. Kevin Lamarque By Dr. Rosalyn LaPier / 03.21.2017 Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Montana Visiting Professor of Women’s Studies, Environmental Studies, and Native American Religion, Harvard Universtiy The Lakota phrase “Mní wičhóni,”[…]

The People Who Help You Die Better

A network of compassionate volunteers caring for their terminally ill neighbours is allowing more people in Kerala, India, to end their days at peace and at home. Jeremy Laurance meets the man leading the movement. By Jeremy Laurance / 02.26.2017 Thirty years ago a young anaesthetist, newly appointed as head of department at Calicut Medical College[…]

Those Pearly Whites: The Archaeology of Teeth – Their Historical and Anthropological Value

Upper teeth of a Neanderthal who lived about 40,000 years ago. Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg By Dr. Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg / 03.02.2017 Professor of Anthropology The Ohio State University “Show me your teeth and I’ll tell you who you are.” These words, attributed to 19th-century naturalist George Cuvier, couldn’t be more correct. The pearly whites we use every[…]

The Face of Rural America and Its Indispensable Contributions

The view from Wyoming County, Pennsylvania. Cropped from nicholas_t/flickr By Dr. Kenneth M. Johnson / 02.20.2017 Professor of Sociology and Senior Demography University of New Hampshire Rural people and issues generally receive little attention from the urban-centric media and policy elites. Yet, rural America makes unique contributions to the nation’s character and culture as well[…]

How Ordinary People are Changing the World

By Christina Sarich / 02.11.2017 India Plants 50 Million Trees in a Single Day Over 800,000 volunteers planted saplings across the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh recently. The tree-planting initiative was part of a $6.5 billion-dollar effort to reforest at least 12 percent of India by 2030. It wasn’t a publicity stunt, nor was it[…]

Songs of Worship: Singing to the Divine in Different Traditions

Image from A-1 Pictures & Satelight By Dr. David Stowe / 02.09.2017 Professor of English and Religious Studies Michigan State University The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Photo by George Frey/Reuters This Saturday, Feb. 11, many Jews will celebrate Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath of Singing, which commemorates one of the most vivid musical performances in the Hebrew[…]

Ancient DNA Reveals Genetic Continuity between Stone Age and Modern Populations in East Asia

In contrast to Western Europeans, new research finds contemporary East Asians are genetically much closer to the ancient hunter-gatherers that lived in the same region eight thousand years previously.  02.01.2017 Researchers working on ancient DNA extracted from human remains interred almost 8,000 years ago in a cave in the Russian Far East have found that[…]