Tag Archives: anthropology


One of my favourite works of anthropology is a study of infancy among the Beng of Cote d’Ivoire. For people in this West African community, children are understood to come from the Afterlife. In their way of thinking, people’s spirits … Continue reading

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Maps and the twentieth century

There is no internationally agreed map of the world. This is one of the more memorable things I took away from a recent exhibition at the British Library. The exhibition, entitled “Maps and the Twentieth Century: Drawing the Line,” reviewed   … Continue reading

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The year in 9 books

Some people send around a poem, a verse of scripture, or a pithy quotation at the end of the year. Not one to do things by halves, I hereby give you nine books. 1. Carbon democracy: Political power in the … Continue reading

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The roots of egalitarianism

Are we natural democrats? Or will tyrants always be with us?   IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, a handful of anthropologists, living with hunter-gatherers, described the workings of societies without leaders, where food seemed to be equally available to all. [1] … Continue reading

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Hunter-gatherer conference: day 1

  Today was the first day of the international Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHaGS).   The 10th meeting of its kind since 1966, it’s brought together approximately 200 delegates — scholars from all four continents, and from the … Continue reading

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Into the forest

ON THE ROAD out of Pokola, I feel excited. It’s been two weeks since we got to Congo, and now at last we’re entering the forest. At one point not far out of town, trees form a green tunnel, bending … Continue reading

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