One Does Not Simply…Write About Anthropology

My Time as a Graduate Student

Historical Documents – Maps & Census

Historical Documents has been a great class this semester because I can use the methods that we are getting from the class and applying it. I posted earlier the transcribing exercise that I applied to the original handwritten manuscripts of Tolkien. This inspired me to use these skills of transcribing, census recording, and building a timeline of events to LOTR once again as a final paper/project. I am really excited to be doing this.

The two projects that I am posting today are the working with maps and census/working with numeral data exercises.

For the maps:

Item17I used four maps of Virginia, specifically around the Chesapeake Bay area and Jamestowne settlement from the years 1612 to 1755 and they are all printed maps. The first map is John Smith’s 1612 map of Virginia from his expedition in 1606-1607; second is John Farrer’s map of 1677 of the coast of 1650farrerVirginia for both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans; third is a 1640 nautical map of parts of Virginia and parts of Florida written in Latin; and fourth is 1755 map of Virginia that includes North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Maryland with boundaries and properties marked to indicate territory possession.

The artwork is what interested me the most between these four maps. In John Smith’s map he has his artwork on the Natives, one a single Susquehannock man and a scene with Powhatan and other 1640b55individuals which are original drawings and contrasts from what it seems to be illustrations of Native from the 1640 map. Smith’s map is also has elaborate drawings of the plant life, building structures, and sea creatures in the Virginia Sea and the Chesapeake Bay. Farrer’s map follow suit with the drawings of fantasy sea creatures, as wells ships, plant and animal life, and there is also a picture and biography of Sir Francis Drake at the top. In contrast to the English maps, the 1640 map has differing images of angel babies, images of what is believed to be Natives, and ships. 1755virginiaThese three maps are thus contrasted to the 1755 map that does not have any expressive images, just terrain images and names of rivers and mountain ranges. It can be concluded that the early colonial maps were not just to map out the landscape, they were also works of art that was used as a way of storytelling to describe the fantasy aspect of the New World, almost to draw interest to come to the New World. As time progressed and the New World was being established, there wasn’t any need to draw interest to populate the area. The New World itself was not some idea and fantasy, it was an established land and very much real. Maps, in turn, were used more for political reasons to mark boundaries between the colonies, mark property of England, show the locations of Native tribes, and show the terrain of the landscape.


For Census

1910UnitedStatesFederalCensusForRobertLClareI used two censuses, the 1910 and the 1930, from King George County, the Potomac District in Virginia. I specifically chose these two censuses because my family on my father’s side, the Clare’s, have been living in this area of Virginia since the late 1880s and continue to live in the same area generations later. I am also currently working on my family’s genealogy on both my parent’s sides of the family and my husband’s. Choosing these two censuses, I was able to compare and contrast various variables over a twenty year timeframe of the same area.

Comparing these two censuses, one can see that the 1930’s census has more detail than the 1910 but they both have very much the same categories. 1910 censuses have nine family households while the 1930 census has seven family households. One of the key differences that I saw between these two was in the ‘place of birth’ sections where in the 1910, almost half of the section is handwritten and the other half is stamped. In contrast, the 1930’s census, this section was all 1930UnitedStatesFederalCensusForMaryLClarehandwritten. There is also a difference in the record of where Robert L Clare was born. In the 1910 census, he is recorded incorrectly to have born in Virginia and in the 1930 census he is correctly recorded to be born in Maryland. Another change that is evident is the growth of the family size that is seen in both censuses from 1910 to 1930 with the birth of children during the twenty year difference. For example, the Clare family in 1910 had four individuals and in 1930 there are ten individuals. In the 1930 census, the Clare family does have a black man that is described as family servant at the age 85. I did not see any other families with a servant in either census. The last major difference was the occupation changes with specifically Robert Clare from blacksmithing working at an auto shop to farming. Both of these occupations were true and the family still owns the auto shop and farm that are recorded. The 1910 had more detailed specialties of occupations than the 1930 and there is a lot more farming occupations in 1930 than in 1910. There are a couple of families that also on both of the census besides the Clare’s, these families include the Fines and the Washington’s.


I really enjoyed doing these projects. As I stated before, my plan is to take these methods and apply them to LOTR to reconstruct culture histories of the various races.

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Academic Genealogy

UWF anthropology genealogy - culturalWhen we think about genealogy, the first think that  usually comes to mind is kinship tree of family. Which is all well in good, but have you ever thought about you academic genealogy? Who your professors studied under? And who those professors studied under and so forth? In anthropology, we talk about so much the “gods of anthropology” that it seems so far off in the past when we read about them. But in reality, we are not that far away if we map it out.

For this week’s Avant-Garde Challenge in Presenting Anthropology, a fellow cultural anthro student and I came up with the idea to do an academic genealogy of our professors. This project went from just focusing on the cultural professors to the whole department. The idea originated from t-shirts that my undergrad created with the genealogy of the Anthropology Department of UMW and one of our professors fro UWF had been thinking about putting a department genealogy together. We also were Amanda L genealogygetting sick of just talking about archaeology in the class, so we wanted to come up with something that would present cultural anthropology. Although it pertains mostly to the student at UWF, you can realize how closely academically related you are to Boas or some of the other big names in anthropology. As anthropologist, we do pride ourselves on our academic lineages and it’s cool to know that you may be just a generation or so away from some big names in the discipline.

In addition to the cultural genealogies, Amanda and I mapped out our personal genealogies. We decided to just focus our genealogies on our Masters Thesis Committee. Amanda did her bachelors at UWF as well, so her professors remained pretty much the same. Mine, however, has the addition of my undergraduate mentor on my thesis committee, Dr. Margaret Huber. Dr. Huber was a studenttina genaelogy of Rodney Needham which makes my lineages from both sides of oceans, Bronislaw Malinowski and Franz Boas. Which is pretty good. Through Dr. Huber I am the great great granddaughter of Malinowski and the great great granddaughter of Franz Boas. Amanda is the great, great, great graddaughter of Boas through Dr. Robert Philen’s lineage. (I think I got that right) Overall, it is just pretty damn cool.

It is important to keep in mind with genealogies that the vertical lines are decedents to/from and the horizontal lines are relationship to. Not everyone is an academic sibling to the other, but there are many who are because they studied under the same individual. For example, Amanda and I are academic siblings of each other because we are both studying under Dr. Robert Philen and Dr. Kristina Killgrove. But we are not siblings when it comes to Dr. Huber, I was her student. Hopefully that makes sense.

What do you think? Do you think that it is important to know your academic lineage? I believe it is important to know where you came from personally and academically. This heritage that we have in anthropology allows us to calm an identity within the discipline that many other disciplines do not have the pleasure of. Genealogies also allows us to remember those who have pasted and have made an ever lasting impression upon us. Although many of us have similar lineages, but it is the experiences and influences from our academic elders that defines who we are. For instance, my undergraduate program had 3 very different anthropological perceptive (structuralism, post modern, and functionalist) and although I loved and was influenced by all 3, the most influential was Dr. Huber and her structuralism. Regardless, it is important to know where we came from and to be proud that you may be a decedent from Franz Boas. I challenge you to construct your own academic genealogy and see who you are related to.

This is UWF Staff genealogy.  If you are the student, you are EGO.

UWF staff-anthropology

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What Jobs Can You Get With An Anthropology Degree?

keyboard-job-searchContrary to popular thought, (like Florida Governor Rick Scott) anthropology incorporates everything and anything allowing anthropologists to be well suited for almost any job. The major draw back that many students just coming out of school have is that thought process: “because everyone says there are not jobs, then there are not.” Much of the time we have to look passed the “anthropologist” title and look more at the skill sets that were acquired.

What skill sets do we as anthropologists have?

In general, all anthropologists are taught: observational skills, recording data, interviewing and interacting with other people from our culture or from different, extensive researching skills, ethical issues that may or may not harm other individuals and how to protect their identity, public speaking, and writing skills.  These are just a few, depending on your anthropology interests it will change.

For archaeology – you learn public policies that pertain to sites, states, and countries, taught how to use survey equipment, recording data, site mapping, knowledge of material remains and artifacts, etc. Biological anthropologists – well rounded in evolutionary theories, knowledge of human bones, forensics, knowledge past and present, etc.

Anthropologists are not just limited to what I have outlined here, these are just a few things that have thrown out there. Our skill sets are wide and vast, you just have to think about what you were taught and how you can apply it to the world.

What Jobs are out there?

Most jobs will not list “anthropologist,” which is the mistake that many do. It is important to read the description of the job and compare your skills sets with the required skills that are required for the job. When interviewing for a job, it is important to emphasize how your anthropology degree has influenced your and could influence your training in anthropology applies to the position you are seeking.

Academia is the largest employer of anthropologists from high school to college/university level. There are even programs within the military that teach cultural awareness or cultural classes.

Government – the federal government is the largest employer outside of academia. The federal government hires cultural anthropologists for cultural affairs,   natural resource management, forensics, and in security and defense. This also includes the military.

Marketing – businesses look for ways to identify and research consumer behavior to target sales.

Great place to look is if you are interested in working with the government.

Some jobs areas that anthropologists have held:

Contract Archaeologist, Corporate Analyst, Corporate Anthropologist, Editor, Educational Planner, Forensic Specialist, Government Analyst, High School Teacher, Medical Researcher, Museum Curator, Park Ranger, Peace Corps, Social Worker, Translator, University Administrator, CRM (cultural resource management), etc  – this is a list from the American Anthropology Association.

Also check out the careers section of the American Anthropology Association AAA-Careers. This site will give you a description of a few career possibilities and what you can do to prepare for them.

Do you have to go to Grad School or get a PhD?

Grad school and PhD is not for everyone, it is an expensive investment and can be challenging for some. So the answer is No, only if you want to.  My decision to go to grad school was to become more rounded in anthropology. I love learning and learning from other people. I want to eventually teach at a college level, so the requirements of that career choice will have to be grad school and eventually a PhD.

Not only did I get a degree in Anthropology from UMW, I also studied in the Historic Preservation program, worked as part of the crew for the field school, and I practice my teaching skills through my training certification with the American Red Cross. I have been an instructor for the Red Cross for over 6 years and I organize, advertise, and teach various classes from CPR, first-aid, Lifeguard training, water safety, babysitting training – I also train individuals to be instructors. Why does this matter? Even though it is not anthropology, teaching and training individuals has given me the experience of organizing classes, public speaking, working with various individuals of different ages, ethnicity,  and backgrounds. I can apply these skills that I have learned and experienced through teaching to a career of one day teaching an anthropology class.

If you are looking to go to Grad school be prepared for the costs of tuition (grad school classes are more expensive), the costs of living (rent, bills, etc), and what is to be expected of you from professors. It is a lot of work and professors will challenge you.

As far as getting a job – you don’t have to go to grad school. Grad school does give you a leg up on the competition, but it is not a requirement unless it stated on the job description.

I have many friends I went to undergrad with who got a job right after they graduated from the Peace Corps, international teaching in Korea, internships that turned into job positions at the Smithsonian and at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, CRM positions, working at the National Archives in Washington D.C., computer software engineering, political campaign staff, etc. It depends upon your interests and your dedication to pursue a career.

This post was a request, but I hope that it will be helpful in some way. 

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Grad School Experiences with the Help from Calvin and Hobbes

dbd1da10d20538b851ee7c7bd4a2196cI grew up reading Calvin and Hobbes comics. And like Disney movies, when you are a little kid you like it for the entertainment factor but you are unaware of the ‘adult’ side of it. Now that we are older we get it.

Lately I have been coming across Calvin and Hobbes and I have been relating much of what Calvin says to my experiences in academia. For a 6 year old, he is a really deep thinker and intellectual. Here are a few that I have came across that I think relate very well.(Along with my rants about grad school)

We all get that feeling when we are in school, that it is never going to end. For some of us it just might not until we are done with 6+ more years to achieve a PhD. While in grad school, the constant question that comes into light is “why the heck am I doing this?” Adding more debt that I collected as an undergrad, going through all the work, research, papers, and all that plus having to work a job to keep up with rent and bills monthly. Seems crazy?! Well it kinda is, but I believe it is worth it. I have some amazing professors who have pushed me and educated me to see the BIG picture in the end. Although we accumulate school loans and debt, it is worth it to learn from those who have been through the experience  understand when you have those crazy weeks of freaking out due to stress and hyped up on too much coffee. Many also have to realize that EVERYONE has some sort of school loans and debt, school isn’t cheap. But it is the experience and the education that is worth it. Worth it to have a better chance of a career and networking. I was fortunate as an undergrad to already build those connections with my undergrad professors, especially Dr. Margaret Huber who has been a great influence on my decision to go to grad school, helped me get in, help me achieve my first conference publication, listener to my grad school rants, and is now going to be on Thesis Committee. Even though grad school can be intimidating at first, you build friendships with those who understand completely what you are going through and you are not the only one.

1f1206336f9936929dfb1166f5e01317When going to grad school, be prepared to do the basics – read, write, coffee, repeat….

There is a lot of reading of boring articles that you will probably never again in your academic career and there are some that will haunt you to the end of your days. I don’t know how many times I have read Clifford Geertz’s Thick Description  or Bourdieu’s Outline of the Theory of Practice. Undergrad and grad, and possibly again when I go for a PhD.

Not only reading but also writing either a mini 2-4 page paper on the article or a paper on a theory that you were suppose to be thinking about the entire semester. calvin&hobbes1My point is, just be prepared to write. To be honest, I much rather write and express my thoughts about what I have done the semester than take a test.  I have not encountered too many tests in my grad classes, I think semester will be the first that I will have to take a final exam in Primatology. Honestly I measure intellect based upon what can be expressed through writing  it shows that one can think, plan, and organize thoughts. Test taking, I believe, shows that one can memorize facts that may or may not be retained. I didn’t take any written exams in my last years of undergrad, it was all papers. calvin-strip2And I learned a lot more writing and organizing within a paper than when I tried to cram for an exam. When I was working on the application process for grad school, one of the requirements was to take the GRE…the worst thing in the world and only proves if you can take a test and if you can do it well. I am a horrible test taking because I get testing anxiety really badly, it is probably because I do second guess myself and I start to panic about  what could happen if I failed.

3d111e36da2a5fdd5947a972d7da528bBut as far as the GRE, like I said it was a waste of time. The GRE has three components, much like the SAT, math, reading comprehension, and writing portion. I hadn’t taken math since my freshmen year of undergrad and there was a reason for that, I hated it and I was not good at it. My brother-in-law, Nic, had to reteach me basic algebra for this test. And guess what? I am not taking ANY math classes as a graduate, funny how that works. Again, I feel it just demonstrates whether or not you can memorize facts for a short period of time. But I may be wrong, that it just how I feel about test. Some are better at writing than others and some are good at taking tests. I am not one for tests.

As far as writing goes, I think I have improved upon my skills as a writer. 5ebd9565f489868b8e61bfb65148720fI will fully admit that my brain thinks faster than I can type, resulting in many grammar errors, which is evident when I get my written assignments back. But I have been better at going back and going through my work to correct it as I go then just sending it to Brian and asking him to edit it. Which is still what I often do.

You are often told since high school, don’t leave assignments and projects to the last minute. We all know we do and it is inevitable. We stay up late to the wee hours of the morning working on a project, sleep for 2 hours and then have to be up to turn it in. I was told by a professor that you are not a true scholar or academic if you don’t leave things at the last minute. I have left many things at the last minute, depending on the assignment and class. Last minute meaning, the night before. There are many who do assignments the day of or 2 hours before it is due. Again, it depends upon the individual. I try to get a majority of what is due for the week done at the beginning. Readings I usually do the night before so it fresh in my mind and I take extensive notes.CalvinAndHobbes This semester I have only had a couple of weeks where I haven’t really read the material and it showed on a couple of reading quizzes. But everyone has  those weeks.  Despite that, writing assignments however, I do start working on those little at a time and then tweak it as time gets closer to turning it in. 07bec445f126c7cfc7be05c55cff3568I will admit there have been a few times where I just write to turn something in, again that also depends on the work load of that week and what I already was working on. Some times it is my best work, others it is not. But everyone is different, some people can  and work better at the last minute panic. I, however, am not that type of individual. I would get too stressed. It is better to get into a habit of organizing yourself for grad school because there is a lot of work and you are expected to accomplish it and produce good, quality work from it. The thing is, like I stated earlier, many professors understand that you may have a couple off weeks and life gets in the way that may hinder you for that time period. And it isn’t like undergrad where many of the students are still fresh out of high school, first time away from home and parents, don’t have jobs, or many obligations. Graduate students are older, with jobs, may or may not have families of their own, and have ‘adult’ responsibilities and problems. (not saying all but many) I was the undergraduate that worked 40 hours to pay for the 21 credits I was taking each semester. Even 106679084893308864_Bp3bRQZK_cthough I do not fit in the norm, many do. Again, you must able to organize your life in order to incorporate school and life during the same time.

As I stated before in earlier posts, I have to juggle being here  in Florida and trying to help with my father who has cancer who is in Virginia, over 700 miles. And on top of that, my fiance who is stationed in another state. All of these factors have affected me many times during my studies, where I get a phone call from my mother to tell me the latest news from the doctors, my father calling me to tell me that he is scared and needs reassurance, and my fiance who I have leaned on during the hard times, I am only able to call. I see everyone that I am friends with here being able to live with the ones they love. I never thought that I would be in this position where I am doing what my father wants me to do most at the expense of being over 700 miles away. I do not regret this decision, just wish I had this experience at a better and happier time. Thus is life, it never is fair when you want it to go your way. Again, it could always be worse.

On a happier note, my experience as a grad student has been a rewarding one. As an undergrad I was exposed to mostly cultural anthropology and theory with some archaeology in the Historic Preservation department. Here I was able to get some experience and knowledge about biological anthropology as well d83a3e69350617edccb1e8c28fea8e04as applied anthropology. Although I like my cultural anthropology and my theory, I am thankful to be exposed to other subfields to have a more rounded knowledge of anthropology. It has also been an experience with being in classes with undergraduates and listening to the conversations and class discussions with them. It makes me very relieved to go to my graduate classes. It is interesting to hear when people get exposed to the first time to anthropological theory, but it is also interesting to note WHAT they are getting hung up on. For example in Primatology, when we reach the part in the lecture about a primate species’ mating, it is the sexual part that we have the most discussion about. Why? Maybe because sex is an interesting subject or the fact they don’t know anything about it. Who knows, but to me primates have sex because it is a part of life, whether it is for fun or for reproduction. THE END. But no, it doesn’t stop there. That is just one example, there are many. Regardless, it is entertaining to listen to and interesting to see what happens next. Again, usually after those classes I am glad to be in my graduate classes.

d94759b13a7571497ed7bb7475cdeac8Alright, well I think I have made this post long enough, but I want to share some experiences of grad school with you. I actually had a request to make a post about my experience by someone who commented on one of my posts. This is only my second semester here, I will have a few more plus the summer. So there will be more experiences to share as well as some updates of thesis research and other project I will be working on.

Hopefully, you also enjoyed the Calvin and Hobbes comics that I included. Many of them to relate to academic experiences and some I thought related very well to anthropology topics (like gender and identity).  And this last one to my thesis topic. d6cdadd0441e6ecb53ed37a9fad75463


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Kids Challenge Project

This week and next week is Kid’s Challenge in Presenting Anthropology. I decided to make a coloring and activity book that describes anthroeach subfield. My inspiration for my characters came from Disney’s Tarzan, just because I was watching Tarzan as I was working on it.

Who doesn’t like coloring books!

All the pages are free-hand drawn, then outlined in sharpie, and then they were scanned into my computer. Very tedious, but I enjoyed it. I have not drawn cartoon characters that much before, so I was pretty satisfied with the results of this project. I do have artistic abilities that have not been used in a very long time. So drawing these pages took awhile (all day actually).

As I stated before, I am pretty satisfied with the results! Take a look 🙂

Anthropology coloring and activity book


Social Media and Anthropology

283cbaf75d5bb4ac1e6ba4422b9ec14dIn earlier posts and throughout this semester, I have posted about anthropology in the social media and how anthropology can be presented for not only academics but for general public knowledge. I came across this image on Pinterest last night and thought this described the social media world perfectly.

Just a short few years ago, there  was not as many social media outlets on the internet as they are today. We actually had to talk to people face to face, write letters, and there was no texting or at least it cost a lot to text, but we actually had to talk on the phone.

So with anthropology, can we apply anthropological research and knowledge to these social medias? If so, can it be done successfully?

One of things that I have found difficult is not only does the the general public have difficulties understanding what it is that anthropologists do, but what is out there in the internet. For instance, I can type in “anthropology” on Pinterest and what gets brought up are products from the Anthropologie clothing store because people spell it wrong when pinning. This happens with a lot of social media sites, so what can be done? Unfortunately it is like teaching children, we must keep repeating until the concept sticks. Using various social medias avenues can be useful in just getting the information out there. Most of learning and knowledge comes from television, movies, and the internet. Many people will look up a topic on Wikipedia and claim that they know everything there is to know on that subject, because it is there. Also, the general public doesn’t take the time to read and research, they want to know the answers at that every moment and what better way to find those answers is via interwebs.

Social media is expanding and does not seem to be slowing down any, unless Skynet takes over and crashes the system and then the world will be taken over by robots. In seriousness, it is not going to slow down. If anthropology wants to be known in a wider audience  anthropologists should be adding social media to their artillery as well as learning, using, and keeping up with various social media.

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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:


9780534643836 9780814741207_p0_v1_s260x420

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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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!


Primate Observation part II at NC Zoo

images (2)I spent this past weekend in North Carolina where Brian and I visited the NC Zoo so I could work on my Primate Observation Project for my Primatology class. This trip was far more successful than my trip to the Gulf Breeze Zoo in Pensacola. Besides the park-wide power outage, we were able to spend a couple of hours observing and recording the group of gorillas that were very active that morning.

This troop consisted of 6 individuals: 1 adult silverback male, 3 adult females, and 2 male infants. The infants belong to two of the females and  the third female is pregnant and due to give birth in the summer, the silverback is the father of all the infants. The infants are still very newmother n infant and the mothers are just starting to allow the infants to explore the enclosure. When they were not exploring, they were being carried on the mother’s back. However, they are a BIG distraction due to their cuteness and they took a lot of my attention away from the rest of the observation of the other individuals. Nonetheless, they were adorable to watch. Numerous times one of the infants would go into in the tall grass and all all you could see is the grass move where he was. The other mother-infant dyad were in the western end of the enclosure and out of sight for the majority of my observation, so I wasn’t able to watch them as closely as I got to with the other mother-infant dyad that stayed a majority of time in my line of sight and around the tall grass towards the middle of the enclosure. As the infants played in the grass, the mother wasn’t too far behind and always keeping a watchful eye. Mother was usually eating in order to provide breast milk for the infant. So as the mother foraged, the infants were put down to explore. At one point one other mothers did place her infant in front of her to groom for about a minute before the infant got distracted to go explore the tall grass once again.

DSC_0319As I had mentioned before, the male silverback is the father of all both male infants as well as the father of the pregnant third female. For the majority of the time that I spent observing, he spent his time either sitting in the southern corner where the glass observation was or laying down. When he was sitting there, he would be facing out into the enclosure watching the other individuals. At one time he did get up and walk around the entire perimeter always looking at one of the females, before he settled back into the corner. He slept for a good 10 minutes of my first observational session and again for 20 minutes into my second observational session. He either sat and ate or slept, but always facing out into the enclosure. He is the alpha male of this troop and the father of the infants. The keeper/trainer of the gorillas was out at the observation window and informed me that the male does often hold and play with the infants. But a majority of the time the infants stay with the mother and the father will occasionally interact with the infants. He is the ever watchful protector of this group.

The pregnant female was out of my sight most of the time at the other end of the enclosure where I could not see past the DSC_0431stone corner. She spent most of the time eating and foraging in the tall grass. Towards the end of my first session, she walked over and laid down in the opposing corner of the silverback, (the southern observational window) where she also preceded to sleep as well. She slept the rest of the my first session about 10 minutes and about 15 minutes into my second session. The rest of the second session she moved from that corner either just sitting and watching or moving toward the tall grass in the center of the enclosure to forage and eat. She is pregnant so she needs to eat as much as she can and rest. (In this picture you can see her pregnant belly).

Fun Fact: gestation period for a gorilla is about 8.5 months.

I have had some people ask me before when I originally posted about the primate DSC_0396project at the Gulf Breeze Zoo, what exactly what I was doing just watching the gorillas. But I was actually assigned to implore and observational method to record the gorillas’ behaviors as a group. This method that I was assigned was an instantaneous (scan) method in which I have to watch the behaviors of each individuals in time intervals of one minute for 30 minutes. Every time a minute was up, I would record a new set of behaviors as quickly as possible. What I have described before with the behaviors of the apes, are the interpretations of what I had observed. I feel like it was a lot like scanning as a lifeguard of a crowded pool, but with gorillas. The good thing was that they really just eat, sit, and rest. The infants were the only individuals that really moved around and were hyper. As a result, observation was not only easy but it was easier to see the whole group during the limited time intervals.

Overall, this trip was very successful as well as fun. Brian was able to help me with the timing intervals and taking pictures of the gorillas. When we were done with the observation project. We did explore the rest of the zoo. It is not the most impressive zoo, there is a lot of walking and hiking between the exhibits. But it was fun and the power did come on eventually, so we didn’t have to use the restrooms in the dark. We were there at mid-day (between 11-2pm) the time when it seemed to be nap time for a majority of the animals. So the animals as a whole were not very active. But I was satisfied and got to do my project.



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