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

October 22 • 4:00 AM

For Preschoolers, Spite and Smarts Go Together

New research from Germany finds greater cognitive skills are associated with more spiteful behavior in children.


October 21 • 4:00 PM

Why the Number of Reported Sexual Offenses Is Skyrocketing at Occidental College

When you make it easier to report assault, people will come forward.


October 21 • 2:00 PM

Private Donors Are Supplying Spy Gear to Cops Across the Country Without Any Oversight

There’s little public scrutiny when private donors pay to give police controversial technology and weapons. Sometimes, companies are donors to the same foundations that purchase their products for police.


October 21 • 12:00 PM

How Clever Do You Think Your Dog Is?

Maybe as smart as a four-year-old child?


October 21 • 10:00 AM

Converting the Climate Change Non-Believers

When hard science isn’t enough, what can be done?



October 21 • 8:00 AM

Education Policy Is Stuck in the Manufacturing Age

Refining our policies and teaching social and emotional skills will help us to generate sustained prosperity.


October 21 • 7:13 AM

That Cigarette Would Make a Great Water Filter

Clean out the ashtray, add some aluminum oxide, and you’ve (almost) got yourself a low-cost way to remove arsenic from drinking water.


October 21 • 6:00 AM

Fruits and Vegetables Are About to Enter a Flavor Renaissance

Chefs are teaming up with plant breeders to revitalize bland produce with robust flavors and exotic beauty—qualities long neglected by industrial agriculture.


October 21 • 4:00 AM

She’s Cheating on Him, You Can Tell Just by Watching Them

New research suggests telltale signs of infidelity emerge even in a three- to five-minute video.


October 21 • 2:00 AM

Cheating Demographic Doom: Pittsburgh Exceptionalism and Japan’s Surprising Economic Resilience

Don’t judge a metro or a nation-state by its population numbers.


October 20 • 4:00 PM

The Bird Hat Craze That Sparked a Preservation Movement

How a fashion statement at the turn of the 19th century led to the creation of the first Audubon societies.


October 20 • 2:00 PM

The Risk of Getting Killed by the Police If You Are White, and If You Are Black

An analysis of killings by police shows outsize risk for young black males.


October 20 • 12:00 PM

Love and Hate in Israel and Palestine

Psychologists find that parties to a conflict think they’re motivated by love while their enemies are motivated by hate.


October 20 • 11:00 AM

My Dog Comes First: The Importance of Pets to Homeless Youth

Dogs and cats have both advantages and disadvantages for street-involved youth.


October 20 • 10:00 AM

Homophobia Is Not a Thing of the Past

Despite growing support for LGBT rights and recent decisions from the Supreme Court regarding the legality of same-sex marriage, the battle for acceptance has not yet been decided.


October 20 • 8:00 AM

Big Boobs Matter Most

Medical mnemonics are often scandalous and sexist, but they help the student to both remember important facts and cope with challenging new experiences.


October 20 • 6:00 AM

When Disease Becomes Political: The Likely Electoral Fallout From Ebola

Will voters blame President Obama—and punish Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections—for a climate of fear?


October 20 • 4:00 AM

Coming Soon: The Anatomy of Ignorance


October 17 • 4:00 PM

What All Military Families Need to Know About High-Cost Lenders

Lessons from over a year on the beat.


October 17 • 2:00 PM

The Majority of Languages Do Not Have Gendered Pronouns

A world without “he.” Or “she.”


October 17 • 11:01 AM

How to Water a Farm in Sandy Ground

Physicists investigate how to grow food more efficiently in fine-grained soil.


October 17 • 10:00 AM

Can Science Fiction Spur Science Innovation?

Without proper funding, the answer might not even matter.


October 17 • 8:00 AM

Seattle, the Incredible Shrinking City

Seattle is leading the way in the micro-housing movement as an affordable alternative to high-cost city living.


October 17 • 6:00 AM

‘Voodoo Death’ and How the Mind Harms the Body

Can an intense belief that you’re about to die actually kill you? Researchers are learning more about “voodoo death” and how it isn’t limited to superstitious, foreign cultures.


Follow us


That Cigarette Would Make a Great Water Filter

Clean out the ashtray, add some aluminum oxide, and you've (almost) got yourself a low-cost way to remove arsenic from drinking water.

Love and Hate in Israel and Palestine

Psychologists find that parties to a conflict think they're motivated by love while their enemies are motivated by hate.

How to Water a Farm in Sandy Ground

Physicists investigate how to grow food more efficiently in fine-grained soil.

Unlocking Consciousness

A study of vegetative patients closes in on the nature of consciousness.

Advice for Emergency Alert Systems: Don’t Cry Wolf

A survey finds college students don't always take alerts seriously.

The Big One

One company, Amazon, controls 67 percent of the e-book market in the United States—down from 90 percent five years ago. September/October 2014 new-big-one-5

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