Finding the First Americans
Archaeology and genetics can’t yet agree on when humans first arrived in the Americas. That’s good science and here’s why
Keeping the score
The gifts we exchange are both generous and yet fraught with social rules and obligations. Marcel Mauss explained why
Thinkers and theories
The generous philosopher
Bruno Latour showed us how to think with the things of the world, respecting their right to exist and act on their own terms
The meaning of Purgatory
Think less of a holding pen for Heaven and more as a flow of love from the living, and the weirdness starts making sense
Computing and artificial intelligence
The people of the cloud
Hot, strenuous and unsung. There is nothing soft and fluffy about the caretaking work that enables our digital lives
Steven Gonzalez Monserrate
Keeping our options open
Frantic human activity has reduced both cultural and biological diversity. Now we must protect the dwindling alternatives
Thomas Hylland Eriksen
Out of the forest
We have thought of humans for a century or more as creatures of the savannah, shaped in every way by grassland life. Not so
Language and linguistics
The polyglots of Dardistan
At the crossroads of south and central Asia lies one of the world’s most multilingual places, with songs and poetry to match
Marx’s idea that societies were naturally egalitarian and communal before farming is widely influential and quite wrong
Information and communication
From mental image to sketch – how memories and emotions conjure up a face
From archaeology digs to display cabinets: how museums bring exhibits to life
Ecology and environmental sciences
Life in one of Canada’s northernmost villages, where the land is sinking into the sea
Far from being hardwired to flee fire, some animals use it to their own ends, helping us understand our own pyrocognition
Mood and emotion
Feeling, in situ
What if emotions are not universal and hardwired but exquisite acts of meaning-making specific to context and culture?
On the run from COVID-19, an Indigenous family treks deep into the Amazon rainforest
The Margaret Mead problem
Mead, so radical about gender and sex in her early work, doubled down on the differences between men and women later. Why?
Elesha J Coffman
The city as an emergent life form, with architecture as the skeleton and roads as veins
How equality slipped away
For 97 per cent of human history, all people had about the same power and access to goods. How did inequality ratchet up?
We heal one another
When a person is in distress, we can draw on deep, evolved mechanisms to calm the storm, through attention, touch and care
Although his story is a mystery, the Lion Man forever binds us to our prehistoric past
The clothing revolution
What if the need for fabric, not food, in the face of a changing climate is what first tipped humanity towards agriculture?
Safety is fatal
Humans need closeness and belonging but any society that closes its gates is doomed to atrophy. How do we stay open?
What pastoralists know
Pastoralists are experts in managing extreme variability. In a volatile world economy, bankers should learn how they do it
On a regular cycle, the Nias islanders of Indonesia would retreat into enforced seclusion. What can we learn from them?