Author Archives: Matt Barlow

I am a multimodal anthropologist and artist based in Adelaide, South Australia. I began my PhD in Anthropology at the University of Adelaide in 2016, where I am using waste as a method of investigating (post)colonial infrastructures and environmental activism in Kochi, India. I also co-produce the Conversations in Anthropology podcast.
Three men post in powdered wig style wigs made of roles of toilet paper. The caption reads "Post-Coronavirus males, displaying their Hunter Gatherer prowess in order to attract mates.

On the social nature of toilet paper

You would be forgiven for thinking that the first thing bought in a global crisis would be tinned, dried, and frozen foods; clean water; and medicines—things that enable the survival of you and your kin. Yet, when the number of COVID-19 cases in Australia hit 100 on March 10, 2020, it was the toilet paper aisles of supermarkets that were empty. Through what became the subject of memes depicting Australians sheltering from the ensuing pandemic wrapped only in toilet paper, and of men wearing lavish adornments of toilet paper rolls, daily bodily habits had hit center stage. (read more...)