Articles on Anthropology

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People currently speak 7,000 languages around the globe. Michael Gavin

Why do human beings speak so many languages?

There's little research into origins of the geographic patterns of language diversity. A new model exploring processes that shaped Australia's language diversity provides a template for investigators.
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In Japan, pillows can be a sex partner

The Japanese sex-toy market for men includes a curious category of objects: pillows. These "bodies" create a paradoxal link between desire and sleep.
The robot Berenson in 2015. Stéphanie Leclerc-Caffarel

Why we don’t trust robots

Robots are strange creatures, and not only because they might steal our jobs. We humans actually have good reason to be a little worried about these machines.
FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers at hearing on allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Dangers of the witch hunt in Washington

A 'witch hunt' is what Trump called investigations into his campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election. An anthropologist explains the connection between witch hunts and social control.
The 2007 midwinter solstice illumination of the main altar tabernacle of Old Mission San Juan Bautista, California. Rubén G. Mendoza/Ancient Editions

A sacred light in the darkness: Winter solstice illuminations at Spanish missions

At many Spanish missions in the US and Latin America, the rising sun illuminates the altar on the winter solstice or other symbolic days. To the faithful, these events meant that Christ was with them.
Rose and Groote Eylandters Nertichunga, Machana and Nabia, Groote Eylandt, 1941. Courtesy of SLNSW, Frederick Rose papers, Box 5

The red professor and the white anting that continues to this day

The book Red Professor: the Cold War Life of Fred Rose tells of a progressive anthropologist who was stymied by non-Indigenous people in powerful positions. Sadly, it's a narrative that still resonates today.

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