Articles on Anthropology

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Inmates, members of MS-13 and Barrio 18 gangs, wait upon arrival at the maximum security prison in Zacatecoluca, 65 kilometres east of San Salvador, on August 9, 2017. Marvin RECINOS / AFP

What gangs tell us about the world we live in

Imaginaries of gangs as inherent forms of brutal anarchy promote particular political agendas and obscure the ways gangs can reveal the underlying dynamics of the contexts within which they emerge.
A modern mouse lemur Microcebus sits upon the cranium of an extinct Megaladapis lemur. Dao Van Hoang www.daovanhoang.com

Last of the giants: What killed off Madagascar’s megafauna a thousand years ago?

A series of new studies sheds light on the population crash and extinction of the giant birds, lemurs and more that roamed the island until around A.D. 700-1000.
What came first – all-seeing Gods or complex societies? God the Father and Angel, Guercino Giovan Francesco Barbieri via Wikimedia Commons

Big gods came after the rise of civilisations, not before, finds study using huge historical database

God only started watching over us quite recently, according to a new study that analysed 414 societies from 30 world regions.
New technology means accessing new information from ancient human remains, some which have been in collections for decades. Duckworth Laboratory

Ancient DNA is a powerful tool for studying the past – when archaeologists and geneticists work together

Ancient DNA allows scientists to learn directly from the remains of people from the past. As this new field takes off, researchers are figuring out how to ethically work with ancient samples and each other.
JC142 research cruise: reproduced with permission of the British Geological Survey, National Oceanography Centre ©UKRI 2018.

Deep sea mining threatens indigenous culture in Papua New Guinea

Deep sea mining could supply valuable rare minerals to green technology, but one project in the south-west Pacific is invoking the wrath of local spirits.
Is a cassette player an “ordinary object” or a “mystery”? It depends on whom you ask, and ethnography can help you ask the right questions. Yoshikazu Takada

Why teach ethnography to managers (in the big data era)?

Big data is all the rage in management circles and beyond, yet little is said about the understanding needed with such voluminous data. An important lesson can be learned from ethnographic research.
Vincent Copley senior and Vincent Copley junior at Redbanks Conservation Park, Burra, in June, 2018. They are holding Ngadjuri book, with their grandfather and great-grandfather, Barney Waria, on the cover. Photo: C.J. Taylor, Flinders University.

Friday essay: who owns a family’s story? Why it’s time to lift the Berndt field notes embargo

In the 1940s, the last initiated Ngadjuri man, Barney Waria, gave a series of interviews to anthropologist Ronald Berndt. Almost 80 years later, Waria's grandson wants to share this material with his family.
In the medical culture of the Bugis and Makassar peoples in Indonesia the word koroq means that the penis is actually shrinking, or retracting, but the Dutch in the 19th-century East Indies did not believe it was real. shutterstock

Is shrinking penis syndrome a delusion or a real thing?

Koro is widely believed to be a culturally localised delusion. But a theory that it's a fight-or-flight reflex might be corroborated by studying traditional healing treatments in Indonesia.
Artist’s impression of Proxima b, a planet orbiting the star Proxima Centauri within the closest known star system outside of our solar system. (ESO/M. Kornmesser)

Can Artificial Intelligence help find alien intelligence?

Using AI to search for ET might help us find things we couldn't even imagine we should look for, but to succeed we also have think critically about how we create and use that technology.
Pan having sex with a goat, statue from Villa of the Papyri, Herculaneum, 1752. Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia

Why animal orgasm matters to our moral universe

The vast discrepancy between abhorrence of bestiality and acceptance of slaughtering on animals suggests that thinking imaginatively about animal orgasm may help us to be more compassionate toward animals.

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