Laughter is Social Glue

– After Ritu Khanduri, With apologies Laughter is social glue— When it escapes the blow is softened— The Brits did not know about Laughter Out of Place, said They, Those brown people, have no sense of fun, only satire and malice—Why can they not be happy we’ve won?   Laughter is social glue— It cements […]

Reflections on Kara Walker’s “a Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby”

A recent installation of Kara Walker’s “a Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby” prompted anthropologist Elizabeth Chin to approach Anthropology Now with a powerful idea for commentary. With the former Domino Sugar Refinery as the exhibit space and evocations of Sidney Mintz’s Sweetness and Power as one of many shared points of reference, we invited […]

Presumed Innocent: On Bill Traylor’s Verve

Something was definitely stirring deep within William “Bill” Traylor. In a span of four years, he expunged a lot of it, producing 1200 drawings and paintings with graphite pencil stubs and poster paint on discarded cardboard. Traylor bears the surname of the proprietor of the plantation in Dallas County, Alabama, where he was born into […]


Before we can understand an alien civilization, it might be useful to understand our own. To help in this task, anthropologist Kathryn Denning of York University in Toronto, Canada studies the very human way that scientists, engineers and members of the public think about space exploration and the search for alien life. From Star Trek to SETI, […]

Anthropology, Pole Dancing and Tax Exemption

Anthropologists sometimes serve as expert witnesses at courthouses. In this “exotic” case, the anthropological testimony did not impress the court. “NEW YORK— “Looking for a nightclub experience that isn’t the same old, same old? Nite Moves is an upscale juice bar featuring all the amenities you’d expect from a luxury bar — plus a few […]