Category Archives: Culture

How religion made us a successful species

Victor Kumar and Richmond Cambell write: For most of history, human populations were limited to small bands of around 150 members. After exceeding that size, a band would split and drift apart, the descendants forgetting their common ancestry. At some point in human history, however, bands were knit together into tribes—groups of groups—geographically distributed but… Read More »

Vikings may not have been blonde, or Scandinavian

Live Science reports: Those ferocious seafaring warriors that explored, raided and traded across Europe from the late eighth to the early 11th centuries, known as the Vikings, are typically thought of as blonde Scandinavians. But Vikings may have a more diverse history: They carried genes from Southern Europe and Asia, a new study suggests. “We… Read More »

Probing the mystery of Japan’s light Covid toll

Neil Seeman writes: In light of Japan’s decision last week to waive pre-departure COVID-19 tests for vaccinated inbound travelers, it is worthwhile to consider that its strong performance over the first two years of the pandemic may have had less to do with policy than with culture. In a study published this summer in the… Read More »

A psychologist plumbs the cultural roots of emotion

By Emily Cataneo, August 19, 2022 When the Australian anthropologist Christine Dureau traveled to the Solomon Islands for research, she brought her toddler along, at first imagining that the universal experience of maternal love would help her relate to the Simbo women living in this foreign culture. But it soon became clear that maternal love… Read More »

Cultural transmission makes animals flexible, but vulnerable

Tim Vernimmen writes: Just a few decades ago, even most biologists would have readily agreed that culture is a quintessentially human feature. Sure, they already knew there were dialects in birdsong, and good evidence that many birds largely learned these regional songs by copying other birds. They knew that some enterprising European songbirds called tits… Read More »

Don’t blame Dostoyevsky

Mikhail Shishkin writes: Culture, too, is a casualty of war. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, some Ukrainian writers called for a boycott of Russian music, films, and books. Others have all but accused Russian literature of complicity in the atrocities committed by Russian soldiers. The entire culture, they say, is imperialist, and this military aggression… Read More »

The war in Ukraine is the true culture war

Jason Farago writes: At the thousand-year-old Cathedral of Saint Sophia here, standing on an easel in front of a towering Baroque golden altar, is a new, freshly painted icon that’s just a foot square. It depicts a 17th-century Cossack military commander with a long gray beard. His eyebrows are arched. His halo is a plain… Read More »

Climate change threatens not only our future but also our past

Melissa Gronlund writes: At Bagerhat in southern Bangladesh, a city of 360 mosques from the 15th century, salt water from the encroaching Indian Ocean is damaging the foundations. In Yemen, torrential rains are decimating the improbable mud-brick high-rises of Shibam’s 16th-century architecture, newly exposed owing to strikes from the conflict there. In Iraq, the country’s… Read More »