Anthropology


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Former child soldiers forced to join the Lord’s Resistance Army, seen here at an army child protection unit following their rescue by the Uganda People’s Defence Force. Gulu, Uganda, September 2004. Photo by Vanessa Vick/Redux

Essay/
Human rights and justice
Against humanity

What the Lord’s Resistance Army can teach us about flaws in the ideal of human rights and the fight for justice

Sam Dubal

  Erotic ‘Spring Picture’, Ming Dynasty, 16th century, China, artist unknown. Courtesy Wikimedia

Essay/
Sex and sexuality
Anti-climax

Coitus reservatus is an ancient technique promising bliss and longevity. Does orgasm data back up these tantric ideas?

Peter von Ziegesar

Margaret Mead photographed at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, 1930. Photo by Irving Browning/The New York Historical Society/Getty

Essay/
Anthropology
The meaning of Margaret Mead

Mead argued that non-Western cultures offered alternative (often better) ways to be human. Why was she so vilified for it?

Sam Dresser

Children at the Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria, England, in 1972. Photo by Bruce Dale/National Geographic/Getty

Essay/
Family life
Against ‘natural’ parenting

We’re opportunistic, inventive and flexible animals, and there is no ‘natural’ or ‘right’ way to bring up our children

Olga Mecking

Gregory and Nora Bateson with pet gibbon, Hawaii, 1970. Photo courtesy the Bateson Idea Group

Essay/
Thinkers and theories
Impossible choices

Learning from his family, his animals and his work with tribal people, Gregory Bateson saw the creative potential of paradox

Tim Parks

The Niha are tireless orators, with festive payments the invariable topic. But what figures in speeches is not the enumeration of debts – the ultimate concern – but the ‘hearts’ of protagonists. Photo by the author

Essay/
Anthropology
The emotional lives of others

On Nias island, the heart can be ‘squeezed’, ‘hot’, even ‘hairy’. What can anthropology say about unfamiliar emotional zones?

Andrew Beatty

A dhole (Cuon Alpinus) attends a Sambar deer kill in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand. Photo by Tontantravel/Flickr

Essay/
Animals and humans
For the hate of dogs

We treat pet dogs with such sentimentality while their wild, endangered relatives are feared and persecuted. Why?

Sy Montgomery

Ma Zhenguo, a system engineer at Renren Inc in Beijing, sleeping at the office of the Chinese credit-management company on 27 April 2016. Photo by Jason Lee/Reuters

Essay/
Sleep and dreams
Here’s to naps and snoozes

American work culture, seeping around the globe, threatens to ruin the pleasures and benefits of public, communal sleep

Todd Pitock

A Jeep full of the Daughters of Charity in St Louis, Missouri in 1964. Photo by Bert Glinn/Magnum

Essay/
Anthropology
Did laughter make the mind?

A psychological relief valve and a guard against despotism, laughter is a uniquely human – and collective – activity

Chris Knight

Canang saris in Bali. Photo by Damian Haas/EyeEm/Getty.

Essay/
Rituals and celebrations
Daily grace

Everyday rituals are ephemeral prayers, a hint to the gods for protection, encircling life like a fragrant garland

Jay Griffiths

An inmate sits on her bunk in an HIV-segregated dorm at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama. Photo by Dave Martin/AP/Rex

Essay/
Human rights and justice
Purity rules

It is difficult to catch and straightforward to treat. So why does society still shame and punish people infected with HIV?

Rose George

With the appearance of the first rays of the sun from Cerro Huantajaya in Alto Hospicio, northern Chile, people celebrate the arrival of the Aymara New Year, Machaq Mara, and the arrival of new energies. Photo courtesy Gobierno Regional de Tarapacá/Flickr

Idea/
Cognition and intelligence
What happens to cognitive diversity when everyone is more WEIRD?

Kensy Cooperrider

Homeless Gustave, 75, sits in front of the tent where he lives near the Boulevard Périphérique in Paris. Photo by Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty

Essay/
Anthropology
At home with the homeless

Is a home made of bricks and mortar or hopes and dreams? Dispatches from among the rough sleepers on the streets of Paris

Johannes Lenhard

Artwork from the Look and Learn series of children’s books c1970. Photo © Look and Learn

Essay/
Human evolution
The hunt for human nature

We still live in the long shadow of Man-the-Hunter: a midcentury theory of human origins soaked in strife and violence

Erika Lorraine Milam

A Mongolian shaman or böö sits with his child before a fire ritual during the summer solstice in June 2018 outside Ulaanbaatar. Banned under communist rule, shamanism has seen a resurgence in Mongolia since 1992, when the ancient practice became protected by the country's Constitution. Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty

Essay/
Social psychology
Masters of reality

The trances and healing powers of shamans are so widespread that they can be counted a human universal. Why did they evolve?

Thomas T Hills

Elvis Presley signs autographs for his fans backstage in New York, 28 October 1956. Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Essay/
Anthropology
Relics of power

From the foreskin of Jesus to the scarf of Elvis: why humans cannot resist the magical potency of charismatic objects

Jesper Sørensen