Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


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

December 20 • 10:28 AM

Flare-Ups

Are my emotions making me ill?


December 19 • 4:00 PM

How a Drug Policy Reform Organization Thinks of the Children

This valuable, newly updated resource for parents is based in the real world.


December 19 • 2:00 PM

Where Did the Ouija Board Come From?

It wasn’t just a toy.


December 19 • 12:00 PM

Social Scientists Can Do More to Eradicate Racial Oppression

Using our knowledge of social systems, all social scientists—black or white, race scholar or not—have an opportunity to challenge white privilege.


December 19 • 10:17 AM

How Scientists Contribute to Bad Science Reporting

By not taking university press officers and research press releases seriously, scientists are often complicit in the media falsehoods they so often deride.


December 19 • 10:00 AM

Pentecostalism in West Africa: A Boon or Barrier to Disease?

How has Ghana stayed Ebola-free despite being at high risk for infection? A look at their American-style Pentecostalism, a religion that threatens to do more harm than good.


December 19 • 8:00 AM

Don’t Text and Drive—Especially If You’re Old

A new study shows that texting while driving becomes even more dangerous with age.


December 19 • 6:12 AM

All That ‘Call of Duty’ With Your Friends Has Not Made You a More Violent Person

But all that solo Call of Duty has.


December 19 • 4:00 AM

Food for Thought: WIC Works

New research finds participation in the federal WIC program, which subsidizes healthy foods for young children, is linked with stronger cognitive development and higher test scores.


December 18 • 4:00 PM

How I Navigated Life as a Newly Sober Mom

Saying “no” to my kids was harder than saying “no” to alcohol. But for their sake and mine, I had to learn to put myself first sometimes.


December 18 • 2:00 PM

Women in Apocalyptic Fiction Shaving Their Armpits

Because our interest in realism apparently only goes so far.


December 18 • 12:00 PM

The Paradox of Choice, 10 Years Later

Paul Hiebert talks to psychologist Barry Schwartz about how modern trends—social media, FOMO, customer review sites—fit in with arguments he made a decade ago in his highly influential book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less.


December 18 • 10:00 AM

What It’s Like to Spend a Few Hours in the Church of Scientology

Wrestling with thetans, attempting to unlock a memory bank, and a personality test seemingly aimed at people with depression. This is Scientology’s “dissemination drill” for potential new members.


December 18 • 8:00 AM

Gendering #BlackLivesMatter: A Feminist Perspective

Black men are stereotyped as violent, while black women are rendered invisible. Here’s why the gendering of black lives matters.


December 18 • 7:06 AM

Apparently You Can Bring Your Religion to Work

New research says offices that encourage talk of religion actually make for happier workplaces.


December 18 • 6:00 AM

The Very Weak and Complicated Links Between Mental Illness and Gun Violence

Vanderbilt University’s Jonathan Metzl and Kenneth MacLeish address our anxieties and correct our assumptions.


December 18 • 4:00 AM

Should Movies Be Rated RD for Reckless Driving?

A new study finds a link between watching films featuring reckless driving and engaging in similar behavior years later.


December 17 • 4:00 PM

How to Run a Drug Dealing Network in Prison

People tend not to hear about the prison drug dealing operations that succeed. Substance.com asks a veteran of the game to explain his system.


December 17 • 2:00 PM

Gender Segregation of Toys Is on the Rise

Charting the use of “toys for boys” and “toys for girls” in American English.


December 17 • 12:41 PM

Why the College Football Playoff Is Terrible But Better Than Before

The sample size is still embarrassingly small, but at least there’s less room for the availability cascade.


December 17 • 11:06 AM

Canadian Kids Have a Serious Smoking Problem

Bootleg cigarette sales could be leading Canadian teens to more serious drugs, a recent study finds.


December 17 • 10:37 AM

A Public Lynching in Sproul Plaza

When photographs of lynching victims showed up on a hallowed site of democracy in action, a provocation was issued—but to whom, by whom, and why?


December 17 • 8:00 AM

What Was the Job?

This was the year the job broke, the year we accepted a re-interpretation of its fundamental bargain and bought in to the push to get us to all work for ourselves rather than each other.


December 17 • 6:00 AM

White Kids Will Be Kids

Even the “good” kids—bound for college, upwardly mobile—sometimes break the law. The difference? They don’t have much to fear. A professor of race and social movements reflects on her teenage years and faces some uncomfortable realities.



Follow us


Don’t Text and Drive—Especially If You’re Old

A new study shows that texting while driving becomes even more dangerous with age.

Apparently You Can Bring Your Religion to Work

New research says offices that encourage talk of religion actually make for happier workplaces.

Canadian Kids Have a Serious Smoking Problem

Bootleg cigarette sales could be leading Canadian teens to more serious drugs, a recent study finds.

The Hidden Psychology of the Home Ref

That old myth of home field bias isn’t a myth at all; it’s a statistical fact.

The Big One

One in two United States senators and two in five House members who left office between 1998 and 2004 became lobbyists. November/December 2014

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