Menus Subscribe Search
Paraders at the 2012 frevo carnival in the old town of Olinda, Brazil (PHOTO: ADAM GREGOR/SHUTTERSTOCK)

Paraders at the 2012 frevo carnival in the old town of Olinda, Brazil (PHOTO: ADAM GREGOR/SHUTTERSTOCK)

It’s February, Do You Know Where Your Anthropologist Is?

• February 05, 2013 • 10:28 AM

Paraders at the 2012 frevo carnival in the old town of Olinda, Brazil (PHOTO: ADAM GREGOR/SHUTTERSTOCK)

Starting later this week, accelerating through the weekend, and exploding by next Tuesday, the world will be entering Carnival season.

Which Carnival you are most aware of probably depends on what language you speak: people in continental Europe are curiously ignorant of Anglophone Trinidad’s event; while English speakers can be vague in their understanding of what’s about to happen in Barranquilla750px-Copenhagen_Carnival_01. Most Carnivals have been studied to death, from the politics of their music to the epidemiology of their libidinousness. It is somehow not shocking that people would seek excuses to classify humanity’s drunkest month as something requiring further study.

None of the studies, however, seems to have addressed the question we’d really want science to answer, which is “where’s the party?” Is Rio really the only place to mark the beginning of Lent?

For the cultural anthropologist who can convince his or her department that modern macro-economics hasn’t fully considered the example of the rum market; that the ornithology of the feather bikini is terribly overlooked in the literature; that the department could really use a proof, by mathematical logic, that God is Brazilian—get to the airport by Friday.

But do not go to New Orleans, or even Rio. Go, instead, to any of the lesser-known demonstrations of the ways in which humanity is both wildly diverse (Mardi Gras looks different in Bolivia) and pretty much the same everywhere (dancing is fun, let’s do more of it).

The perfectly-named FestivalPig’s list of the best Carnivals in the world offers some ideas:

Oruro, Bolivia (#4)

Around 600,000 people line the streets…The parade is led by San Miguel who is followed by devils, El Tio – lord of the underworld and lots of conquistadores painted like devils. This parade makes its way to the soccer stadium where good triumphs over evil.

Olinda, Brazil (#2)

Most Brazilians will tell you that Olinda has the best carnaval in Brazil….Pernambuco (the region) has the unique trevo music, afoxé instruments, colorful umbrellas & Maracatu (mix of theatre and dance) umbrellas as well as foliõe bands and the parading of giant dolls.

The festival has a more African influence compared to the European feel of the Rio carnival which is evident in the flirty dances like the gut flexing bate-coxa, the umbrella-spinning frevo, the noble maracatú or the extremely graceful caboclinho.

Barranquilla, Colombia (#9)

Per leading Barranquilla Studies scholar, Shakira, in Barranquilla se bailan asi.

Belgium. Belgium? Belgium

Marc Herman

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

July 31 • 2:00 PM

A New York State of Fracking

Court cases. A governor’s moratorium. Pending health study. A quick guide to the state of fracking in New York.


July 31 • 11:17 AM

How California Could Power Itself Using Nothing but Renewables

We don’t need fossil fuels.


July 31 • 8:00 AM

Should Athletes Train Their Memories?

Sure, but it probably won’t help.


July 31 • 6:00 AM

Universal Basic Income: Something We Can All Agree on?

According to Almaz Zelleke, it’s not a crazy thought.


July 31 • 4:00 AM

Medical Dramas Produce Misinformed, Fatalistic Viewers

New research suggests TV doctor dramas leave viewers with skewed impressions of important health-related topics.


July 30 • 4:00 PM

Still the World’s Top Military Spender

Although declining in real terms, the United States’ military budget remains substantial and a huge drain on our public resources.



July 30 • 2:04 PM

The Rise of the Nuisance Flood

Minor floods are afflicting parts of Maryland nearly 10 times more often than was the case in the 1960s.


July 30 • 2:00 PM

The (Mostly Awful) Things You Learn After Investigating Unpaid Internships for a Year

Though the intern economy remains opaque, dialogue about the role of interns in the labor force—and protections they deserve—is beginning to take shape.


July 30 • 12:00 PM

Why Coffee Shortages Won’t Change the Price of Your Frappuccino

You’re so loyal to Starbucks—and the company knows it—that your daily serving of caffeine is already marked up beyond the reach of any fluctuations in supply.



July 30 • 10:00 AM

Having Difficult Conversations With Your Children

Why it’s necessary, and how to do it.


July 30 • 8:00 AM

How to Make a Convincing Sci-Fi Movie on a Tight Budget

Coherence is a good movie, and its initial shoot cost about the same amount of money as a used Prius.


July 30 • 6:00 AM

Are You Really as Happy as You Say You Are?

Researchers find a universal positivity bias in the way we talk, tweet, and write.


July 30 • 4:00 AM

The Declining Wage Gap for Gay Men

New research finds gay men in America are rapidly catching up with straight married men in terms of wages.


July 30 • 2:00 AM

LeBron James Migration: Big Chef Seeking Small Pond

The King’s return to Cleveland is a symbol for the dramatic shift in domestic as well as international migration.


July 29 • 4:00 PM

Are Children Seeking Refuge Turning More Americans Against Undocumented Immigrants?

A look at Pew Research Center survey data collected in February and July of this year.


July 29 • 2:00 PM

Under Water: The EPA’s Ongoing Struggle to Combat Pollution

Frustration and inaction color efforts to enforce the Clean Water Act.


July 29 • 12:40 PM

America’s Streams Are Awash With Pesticides Banned in Europe

You may have never heard of clothianidin, but it’s probably in your local river.


July 29 • 12:00 PM

Mining Your Genetic Data for Profit: The Dark Side of Biobanking

One woman’s personal story raises deep questions about the stark limits of current controls in a nascent industry at the very edge of the frontier of humans and technology.


July 29 • 11:23 AM

Where Should You Go to College?


July 29 • 10:29 AM

How Textbooks Have Changed the Face of War

War is more personal, less glorious, and more hellish in modern textbooks than in the past. But there’s still room for improvement.


July 29 • 10:00 AM

The Monolingual American: Why Are Those Outside of the U.S. Encouraging It?

If you are an American trying to learn German in a large German town or city, you will mostly hear English in return, even when you give sprechen your best shot.


July 29 • 8:00 AM

The Elusive Link Between Casinos and Crime

With a study of the impact of Philadelphia’s SugarHouse Casino, a heated debate gets fresh ammunition.


July 29 • 6:00 AM

What Are the Benefits of Locking Yourself in a Tank and Floating in Room-Temperature Saltwater?

After three sessions in an isolation tank, the answer’s still not quite clear.


Follow us


Subscribe Now

The Rise of the Nuisance Flood

Minor floods are afflicting parts of Maryland nearly 10 times more often than was the case in the 1960s.

America’s Streams Are Awash With Pesticides Banned in Europe

You may have never heard of clothianidin, but it's probably in your local river.

How Textbooks Have Changed the Face of War

War is more personal, less glorious, and more hellish in modern textbooks than in the past. But there’s still room for improvement.

NASA Could Build Entire Spacecrafts in Space Using 3-D Printers

This year NASA will experiment with 3-D printing small objects in space. That could mark the beginning of a gravity-free manufacturing revolution.

The Big One

One in two full-time American fast-food workers' families are enrolled in public assistance programs, at a cost of $7 billion per year. July/August 2014

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.