One Does Not Simply…Write About Anthropology

My Time as a Graduate Student

Easter Weekend

DSCN0088As I have stated before in previous posts, it is hard being over 700 miles away from the ones your love. This is the first Easter that I wasn’t with my family.  With school, it would be a hard and expensive weekend to try to visit the family in Virginia. But soon enough I will be able to be with them in May and June for a short time. Brian was able to travel down here for the weekend and he really hasn’t been here since October of last year. As I think about it now, this weekend was really short and it was really hard to see him go today. Not many people can say that they did what we are doing now. Since we first started dating our time together has been limited, he was at TBS and then school in Va Beach and now he is stationed in Jacksonville, NC., while I have been helping taking care of my father and now in Grad School in Florida. I do not regret going to grad school because professionally it was the right choice, I just miss him. But this time apart, as we have realized, has made us grow closer together, built our communications, and our relationship. And as soon as we get married, there is a chance of him deploying. We really haven’t had a break from being apart. I am trying my best to work on my degree so that I can get a job teaching because teaching and anthropology are my joys and passions. But I still has some work to do with it.

So that is my sob story for the day, but a recap on the weekend.

Not realizing that it was Spring Break here for many of the public schools, our plans to try to go to the beach and to the downtown area failed on Friday. We spent a few hours in traffic and turned around and came back home, that night we did go out to theDSCN0111 beach on the base. Saturday, however, we were able to make to the Pensacola Beach where we walked along the boardwalk-ish area, rode of a Ferris (my first time), and had our traditional trip ice creme.

No matter where I go, the anthro-senses tingle and I have a tendency of people watching (which every anthropologists does). People watching at the beach is interesting because it is an area where you can bare all, drink, and the common behavior is to get drunk in public and try to impress by displaying the body   –  and its the norm of beach culture.

As mentioned, today is Easter and I thought I add some anthropology to it. Like all holidays, Easter is gendered female…why? Well think about all that incorporated with the major holidays…gathering of family, preparing food for a gathering or family, and who does this traditionally? The mother or wife of the household. When we incorporate anthropology of food and preparations, traditionally it is the woman who prepares meals that incorporate the bringing the family together and the preparing of the food is usually a slow and all day preparations to ensure that everything is right for the family. So we genderized this food preparations as female, where as male foods and preparation are fast foods like burgers, hot dogs…food that can be prepared quickly like on a grill. Such as the summer holidays – Forth of July.

DSCN0126There is also the giving of gifts. Easter it is giving of chocolate, small gifts (sometimes big gifts) and eggs. Again there is an exchange of gifts, but it may or may not be reciprocal.

When we look at Easter, it is really the reversal of Christmas and signifies the end of the festival cycle. It indicates Spring, the rebirth of life of Earth where Halloween (the beginning of the festival cycle) and Christmas are within the “dead” months of the year. Easter is the time when Christ is born again from death and emerged from a cave that was his tomb, this tomb is metaphorically a womb and creation of life. Caves in Mezoamerican culture are symbols of life and of the womb, thus the symbolism of birth is gendered female. In contrast to Christmas, which signifies the birth of Christ through the womb of the mother Mary. Both holidays symbolize birth, but in two different ways.

I may have left a few things out with that, I honestly have not thought about the gender of holidays in a long time. I do believe that maybe a side project. However, like everything anthropology…there are bound to be disagreements and such but honestly this is just my take on the holidays…more to come.

Happy Easter.

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Flash back to Anthropology 101

As I am building my summer thesis reading list, I was going through my books that I haven’t seen or read since my first anthropology class at University of Mary Washington in 2009. This brought back some memories of being exposed to anthropology the first time and Dr. Eric Gable. Before that class, I was interested in archaeology but the only thing that UMW offered was a major in Historic Preservation that included archaeology courses, but when I took Anthropology 101 I fell in love with the cultural subdiscipline.

Professor Gable made it interesting and at the same time exposed many students to a new world. I do have to say this is one of my most memorable classes. But as I was saying before, the books that were required for that class were:


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These three books really opened my eyes to the world of anthropology and what anthropologists could study.

Return to Laughter is an anthropological novel that is based upon one anthropologist’s study and first year in the field with a remote African  tribe, the Tiv, and the exploration of witchcraft within the culture. This fictional approach to anthropology, portrays human dimension,  recounting an anthropologist’s failures and triumphs in the field, and how she has to adapt to this new environment. Although it is fiction, it relates very well to the challenges that many anthropologists must face and undergo through their own research.

Fraternity Gang Rape – is an analysis of how all-male groups like fraternities create a rape culture. This is very powerful, but chilling book that goes into rape culture and how it is formed, but this book shed light upon how this problem continues today. We have all seen it in the new with university athletic groups gang raping women. As I stated before this is a chilling book and can make/has made some people feel uncomfortable., but it is one of those many truths that exist within our society.

The Sambia: Ritual, Sexuality, and Change in Papua New Guinea – This book caused many people to drop out of a class (many males) and I was surprised that this was assigned to an intro to anthropology class. Regardless of that fact, I enjoyed this book like I did the others. This book goes into the initiation rites and rites of passage from childhood to adulthood, boys to men through ritual. As the title suggests, the rituals within this culture defines the change from a boy’s childhood to adulthood as well as defines his sexuality. It is important to keep in mind, that in many cultures sexuality is defined within the cultural construct. In many cultures boys, even though are born the sex male, are considered a gendered female until they go through an initiation ritual that allows him to be considered a gendered male. Without going too much into this books because it is worth the read, this book allows the readers to see how different other cultures are compared to our own and the subject of gender vs sex.

These books were really intense for an introduction level, but the idea of that class was to weed out anyone who was not serious about being an anthropology major. I see that now and it worked. I haven’t read these in a while, so if I have time I will be reading these again. But please check these out, they are great anthropology works!

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Wordless Wednesday… bad and interesting anthropology videos

As we conclude our visual challenge week in Presenting Anthropolgy, we realize that it is a challenge to make a video but there are some pretty bad and interesting videos out in the interwebs about anthropology that have been made. These videos either describe a topic or anthropology as a whole, I will let you decide if it is interesting or just bad.  I share some of the few…enjoy.




Anthropology lesson….I think he has gotten some thing wrong..

The Song of Homo habilis

Women’s Behavior…..this is so wrong, creepy, and appropriate 

Cultural Anthropology

My little Pony Anthropology

Applied Anthropology Presentation…..

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Finally a Post!

I just realized that I haven’t posted in about a week, silly me. But life sometimes gets in the way of things. Last week I was battling allergies that turned into a head cold, that is now all in my chest. This has made it challenging to focus on school work and thesis research because I have been drugged on on anti-congestion and ny-quail. Needless to say, my work was not the best that was produced during the course of last week.

On a good note I have finished my zoo observation project which required me to learn excel to produce charts and tables to explain the amount of time each individual used sections of the enclosure, time spent performing activities and behaviors, postures, and locomotion. I am pretty pleased with it, lets hope the instructor is as well.

In regards to my thesis, I have been challenged by the some of the writing assignments for Research and Design. Which is a really good thing, because it requires me to think outside of the box for my topic. I am essentially studying fake cultures that do not have archaeological evidence or any real existence within the threads of reality in the sense that we can travel to Middle Earth. But what Lord of the Rings does have are historical documents within the context of the writing (when Gandalf goes and researches the existence of the one Ring in the Fellowship or the maps in Hobbit when the dwarfs are trying to figure out how to get into the mountain), there is also languages that are specific to the an individual culture and there are languages that unit communication between all the cultures (Common Speech), and each have their own cultural traditions and rituals that are shape the identity of the cultures.

But yes, I am doing a structural analysis on Lord of the Rings
Well why not? I am interested in many things, but I wanted to focus a thesis on something fun and challenging at the same time. The challenge is that it is not real, a fake culture. But each culture within has it’s own history that has helped shape it cultural construction. Each culture has a history and language, the whole of Middle of Earth has a history and shared language that allows each of the cultures to communicate and interact with one another, whether it be for good or bad.

As I mentioned before,I am interested in the use of languages within each of these cultures and how it shapes each. Much like our own cultures and languages. The languages were constructed by Tolkien, and they are used today just like Trekies who learn Klingon.

I am also interested in comparing it to the construction of myth.
I love theory and I love reading, so why not? They may be fiction but that makes it just as real to the characters within the story.
In order to achieve all this I had to structurally break down Lord of the Rings…that process has begun and I am loving every moment of it. Analysis of myth has been done, so the resources are there. I am just going to apply it to Lord of the Rings.

One thing I have learned from research and coming up with a thesis topic, is that it should be fun. Does this have any anthropological value? Well that is up for interpretation. I see fiction writing as a reflection of the self. Many authors use familiar aspects from personal experience, cultural histories, and influences of one’s culture to construct these fictions.

I wanted a challenge, and breaking down and discussing anthropological concepts of a fictional culture fits that bill. As Brian told me the other day, “if you can do this with a fake culture, how much easier would be to do with an existing culture.”

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Wordless Wednesday – Cyborg Anthropologist

This is pretty interesting. Amber Case is a “cyborg anthropologist” studying how technology affects us, and how affect one another.

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Day 1 back from Spring Break

It is Monday and the first day back from Spring break, and my mind is still not off of vacation. I would have to say that as far as wedding planning goes, spring break was successful. I wish I could say the same for my school work. I was able to to accomplish about half of what I said that I would try to work on during that week, but time just slipped away from me. Wedding planning seemed to take the main precedence of the time which would make sense because I needed to get everything approved and ordered in time for the wedding. So wedding planning is pretty much 95% done. School work…well I still have my primatology project and paper to work on. That will be my main focus this week.

Other than wedding and school work, Spring Break was a great week away from Pensacola. I was able to spend the time with my parents that I miss so much, especially since time is so precious with my father’s health. And wedding planning for my mother is a distraction from the thoughts, emotions, and stress of my father’s health. She has been the shinning star in finding all my venues, that are local, and setting up all the appointments during last week.

During that week I was also able to see many of my friends that I had not seen since before I first left for Florida. Half of whom are in my wedding, and the other are attending and will be advising me through my thesis process.

I was really happy to spend two weekends in a row visiting with Brian. It has been so hard being separated for him especially when he is my rock that I lean on all the time. Our time together, when we do get to see each other, is so precious. This time away and distance has made us grow as a stronger couple and built our relationship to be stronger. This past weekend was one of the best to be in NC with him and just spending us time. It will be such a relief when we will be able to do this all the time.

Well it is time to get my butt in gear and my head back into academia. Primatology project is the goal of this week.

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Wordless Wednesday – What the Public Thinks We Do Through Movie Clips

When I am asked what I am studying and I respond “Anthropology,” there are several reactions that I get in return. They are mostly questions of “what is anthropology,” “do you like working with dinosaurs”, “that’s archaeology right?,” “you work with animals?,” or “you do what that one lady does in Bones.”  I feel like I do mini Introduction to Anthropology presentations every time I talk to someone about what it is I am studying. Which makes for good practice. So this week’s Wordless Wednesday, I give you what the general public thinks we do as anthropologists through movie clips of popular movies and TV shows.

Studying Dinosaurs – Jurassic Park

Indiana Jones  – because archaeology IS this dangerous

National Treasure – not too sure what he really is

Bones – a show about an actual anthropologist 

Studying animals……animals are people too?

But some of us do study Primates!


Monday of Spring Break

It is Monday of Spring Break and I already feel accomplished. This past weekend Brian and I went with our mothers to our wedding venue, approved the catering and approved our wedding cake. Which was phenomenal! Chef Nancy is the baker that I am getting my cake through and she is an amazing woman. Here cakes are all natural, no red-dye, and no preservatives. We are having a very simple cake, but I am not going to tell what it looks like or the flavor of the cake. It is going to be a surprise, but I am super excited about it.

Today, Mom and I approved the wedding flowers of stargazer lilies, red spray roses, and white roses. All my vendors are local shops because I believe the best service comes from those who are working to keep up a small business that they have a passion for. My wedding gown and bridesmaid gowns come from a small local shop as well. You are more than just a number to these local shops and these people take the time to make the bride feel special.

Although this post isn’t very anthropological but it is a week to relax and get some things done. And weddings are very symbolic and ritualistic. In America, the planning brings together a mother and daughter closer than in most moments of life. This is also a time when parents of both the bride and groom are closest in their lives, until it comes to pregnancy and children. But this week my mother and I plan to finalize all the wedding plans because this is the only time that I can really be in town and the summer begins to cut too close to the wedding date. The last BIG decision to make is on the invitation design, which I believe that will happen tomorrow. I really did not want to go a whole week of not posting because it is very easy to just ignore and not be on the computer during a time when I am away from school. So why not post about what is going on and how one grad student spends her spring break.

With that I have been thinking about my past spring breaks from my time as an undergrad. I have never really gone anywhere, I just spent that time either working or catching up on school work. Which is something that I am trying to accomplish this week, get ahead on at least my primatology homework and research paper. I am also a discussion leader for Presenting Anthropology next Monday and I am going to try to kick butt on it. Not too sure how, but I will try to get together some pretty cool things to show for our video challenge.

I also wanted to mention that this past weekend was the Southern Anthropology Society conference and two of my friends/colleagues presented a paper on Liminality of the Abhorsen book series. I have not talked about this project too much, but a sneak preview for now is that this is a side project that I am working on with these two. And it is comparing and contrasting, structurally, various fictional series. The ultimate goal is to write a book on how we anthropologically and structurally broke down these fictional series. I will post more about this project another time. But I am really happy to report that they had a successful presentation.

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Spring Break = Recharge

Today is the last day of classes before spring break and it is a well needed break. Although I do have a list of things that I would like to work on and get ahead on, like my primatology homework and paper, but we will see how that will go. This has been a long week in general between really starting work at the University Pool and getting worn down to the point I didn’t even have the energy to read 2 pages of reading (which always happens to have a reading quiz on it the next day).

I will be going back to Virginia for spring break, nothing too exciting, but it is home. And I haven’t seen my family since Christmas and I will be able to hopefully recharge for the rest of the semester. As I mentioned before, my hope is to get ahead on my primatology paper on Gorillas. Which I am really excited to start writing about, especially since I will be adding in my personal observations from the NC Zoo. We will see if actually happens. I will also be finalizing wedding plans for October, which I can’t believe that the time has gone by so fast and the wedding is soon approaching.

I do want to acknowledge two of my friends who will be going to SAS (Southern Anthropology Society conference) and I am sad that I will not be able to go to this conference, unfortunately more pressing personal matters must take precedence. It has worked out that way lately that the group has not been able to be together for a conference, this is not the year of conferences. But I wish all the best of luck to them, I hope that we can start on a new project soon 🙂

Overall, this spring break is something that I am looking forward to this break.

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Wordless Wednesday – What is Anthropology

This is a good video on the exploration of what anthropology as well as what the general public believes what anthropology is…

Describes most of our lives when we try to explain what we are studying.

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