Accessible Anthropology

anthropology

Good morning, pals. I haven’t posted in a ¬†while – but I’m getting there. Trying to make a habit of it I guess!

Today I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned the last 3 years with you, during my time studying at Durham.

IMG_8261

Sassy grad smile ūüėĬ†

I picked anthropology as my degree, mostly because it was fairly close to the top of the list of subjects available. (I’m only sort of joking.) Anyway, I had no idea what it was, and it looked interesting.

Anthropology, as a discipline, is recognised and categorised into four main branches:

  • Socio-cultural¬†
  • Biological or physical¬†
  • Archaeological¬†
  • Linguistic¬†

Now, I don’t want to get into the nuances of each field, right here, right now. I’m only going to focus on one topic.

My degree is in biological anthropology. Biological anthropology focuses mostly on:

Primatology:

Image result for brachiation

and Paleoanthropology.

Image result for human evolution

 

In my first year I was taught by a wonderful woman named Trudi. Trudi was pretty crazy, but provided the best possible introduction to a subject I previously knew next to nothing about.

Wearing a smock, she’d waltz into the lecture theatre and transport us almost immediately into a world full of bones and unsolved mysteries. She introduced us to the subject¬†thus:¬†

Seven million years ago, the line between primatology and paleoanthropology becomes, well, slightly blurred.

What is a primate? 

Aside from being #mymates (sorry), primates are what we know as monkeys and apes.

What is paleoanthropology?

Paleoanthropology is slightly more tricky. If we take “paleo” to mean “old”, and “anthropology” to mean “human”, then we get, well, “old humans.” And that’s basically what it is. Looking at how and why and when humans developed from primates.

Having established this, biological anthropology suddenly becomes a frighteningly broad area of study. It’s primates and evolution and a story with barely any answers.

Who am I? You ask, and I really can’t tell you.¬†

Perhaps you swung from the trees with Orrorin, 6 million years ago.

Perhaps you cracked nuts with Paranthropus, whilst Lucy sat nearby and made her tools.

Maybe you painted cave art with the Neanderthals in France, or made spears with Homo heidelbergensis in Germany.

It’s just…. we don’t know.

And that’s what makes the subject so fascinating!

In this series of short writings entitled “Accessible anthropology”, I’ll be explaining our evolutionary history as best I can. It’ll probably be horrendously biased and unfactual at points, but I’ll try to make it as interesting as I can.

Actually, that’s a lie. I don’t need to “make” it interesting. It already is!

Imagine thinking you only had one relative and then…discovering an entire, crazy family.

For better or for worse, we’re in this together.

Screen Shot 2018-08-19 at 10.45.57.png

I have Australopithecus afarensis tattooed on me. 

Love and skeletons,

Cam

Pride!

travel

Good evening, pals!

I am writing this post in a very unhappy state – namely, I feel like I am being punished for some unknown misdemeanour by being put in the seventh circle of hell, A.K.A the packed 6’o’clock train from London to York, which has no air conditioning and is full of people who just want to FIGHT with one another about this fact. Jeez Karen, can’t you just shut up and drink your complimentary bottle of water?


 

This weekend has been a special one. I went with my cousin, who is more like my younger sister, to PRIDE in London!

To those of you reading this who are like, “huh?”, pride is an enormous day of parades and celebration through the centre of London (and many other cities have them too!) in which LGBTQ+ individuals can celebrate their way of life, be it their gender, sexuality, sex, and many other things in that category.

Now, you might notice I am being careful with my wording (something that’s rare for me). This is because I do not identify with any of the aforementioned categories. I went along to show support for all those who¬†do¬†identify in this way, and to join in the celebration of the wonderful diversity and uniqueness of the individuals that make up the world we live in!

Phew. I really hope that wasn’t offensive in any way! It wasn’t meant to be at all.

The LGBTQ+ community is most well-known for the controversy it has caused in the past,   and indeed, the issues that are still very real in the rigid, sometimes outrightly unaccepting world of today.

Case in point – on Thursday night I went to see the cinema screening of the play “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie”, in which the central character (Jamie) faces his own struggles with acceptance, as a male Drag Queen in a working-class Northern environment. I would like to mention this film as I not only A). REALLY ENJOYED IT (it’s so so so SO funny and uplifting!) but B). was able to gain an insight into some of the real struggles faced by LGBTQ+ individuals, every single day.

I’m not a total stranger to issues surrounding gender and sexuality, though. As an anthropologist, I studied modules with names like “sex, reproduction and love”, and “sex in public places” – to some extent, I am aware of the literature and conversations happening, based on this enormous area, which is sometimes fraught with conflict and contrasting opinions.

So the parade is kind of like an enormous signal to the world – this is real, it’s happening, hop on board with it.

But let’s not get bogged down too much in the politics of it all,¬†(this is a #happypost) as the parade is, first and foremost, a celebration of LGTBQ+ communities and groups!

And boy did it live up to this!

It. Was. HUGE.

Like,

ENOURMOUS.

IMG_8844.JPG

People were just crammed into Oxford Street like I cram my clothes into my messy, untidy drawers. Overstuffed, is the word I would use. With flags everywhere and support signs akimbo, it was like being in a world full of brightly coloured, chattering parrots. Actually, some people even had wings on, so there’s that similarity too.

The energy and the light of it all, the vibrancy of the colours and the glitter of the drag queens just brought a smile to your face.

People in short shorts and platform Converse and lots of lycra and with crazy hairdos pranced and danced and marched their way down the centre, blasting music out of huge speakers and throwing freebies into the crowd. These ranged from free condoms #staysafe, kids, to packets of sweets and stick-on crowns.

Support in the parade came from all kinds of companies, people, and places. The Queen’s marching band played a rousing version of the YMCA, all the while looking stone-faced straight ahead at the music clipped to the end of their instruments, whilst the Army roared up in a tank, followed by a crowed of people dressed in mildly disturbing leather outfits and covered in chains. I will not dwell on this.

Every time a new group, bearing whatever sign it was, the crowd would go crazy. Yelling and screaming and high-fiving and dancing like crazy. As well they should! What a wonderful day: watching all these hundreds of groups go past, openly declaring their support and spreading love for a cause and a community that is often the brunt of much hate.

We didn’t stay for all of the parade, as I had one of the worst experiences of my life, right there on the sidelines. (TW: I’m about to mention my period).
White denim skirt. Surprise visit from “Aunt Irma”. D I S A S T E R.
LUCKILY, my cousin had an enormous pride flag with her, which I fashioned into a kind of sarong whilst I ran through Topshop trying to find something black, and at leat knee-length.
Moral of the story is – always carry spare trousers??? Who even knew this was a thing??? I am kind of traumatised now.

Back to the original point of the post, which was pride.

Lately I have been binge-watching “Queer Eye”, which is a new show on Netflix. It focuses on 5 gay men (The “Fab 5”- they are, indeed, fabulous), and their mission to give a spiritual, physical, and mental makeover to someone nominated for their love of jorts (jean-shorts), terrible facial hair, or inability to move out of their parent’s house. It’s possibly the most cute, wonderful, funny, and uplifting I have ever had my eyes and ears blessed by. Seriously. I have cried so many happy tears watching that show. So pride, and gay culture in general, has been on my mind recently.

2-27-qe-index-1519833445.png

Queer Eye isn’t just about the makeover, though. The guys talk in depth about their experiences with coming out, being openly gay, being religious, and talking to family members etc. It’s a very interesting, honest, and sometimes heart-breaking insight into this way of life.

One of their (the “Fab 5”)’s main points they make in the show, is to reinforce the idea that love is love, no matter what form it takes.

There are so many different types of love, and ways to love, and I’m slowly having my eyes opened up to them, in one way or another.

So what I wanted to say, that after all this, going to pride myself and being in that wonderful, accepting atmosphere, is that I felt nothing but oodles of love on that day, emanating from every single person at the event.

Love is love, people, and I think we, as a whole, need to start saying it like a mantra!

Love is love, no matter what form it takes. Why bully others for being loving, when love is the substance of life? IMG_8824.JPG

On that note, I shall depart.

All my love, to you, specifically you reading this,

Cam

Briefly, Budapest

travel

My experience of Budapest was a heady mix of aching feet and awe at the beauty of the city.

Highlights:

  • Food
  • Scenery
  • History
  • Cheap

Lowlights:

  • Effect of large quantity of dairy on Cam’s stomach.

Admittedly, the latter problem was my own fault and I can’t really blame the city.¬†

IMG_5569

 

Hello and welcome!

General
Hi there!
 
If you hadn’t already guessed, the inevitable has happened – and I have decided to start BLOGGING *everybody cringes.* As if I wasn’t embarrassing enough anyway (check out my Insta). Still, I remain shameless about my propensity to over-share online. If reading about my trials and triumphs makes even one person feel better about themselves/ their own life, I will have won. Also low-key, my therapist told me that most of my problems would be solved if I just wrote them down and thought them through, so I will also be testing that theory.
 
More so than being an anthropologist (the subject of my undergrad degree) or a veterinarian (the subject of my next degree – we’ll get to that), I have always been a writer. Someone once called me “fat and weird” for reading books a lot when I was a pre-teen, but my hobby did leave me with the ability to string together a few sentences in a way that’s easy to read. Who’s laughing now? Probably them, actually…
 
So what should you expect from avocamilla.com?
 
Food 
 
Food, glorious food! Yes, I’m a (mostly) vegan. BUT before you turn away in disgust, I promise you I am not one of¬†those¬†vegans. I don’t CARE if you eat steak three times a day or are a gluten-free milk-free Paleo pescatarian. As long as you don’t send me sausages in the post or something, we’re cool. I will not preach about veganism or anything like that. I will just share my reality with you! Which is, admittedly, mostly guilty bags of Malteasers and the occasional cheesy pizza. *gasp!* And some meals that are just cous cous and ketchup – I’m a student, let me live. Sometimes I do make nice food (or have it made for me), and when I do, I’ll be sure to share it. But me and my baked beans are probably not going to make it onto the #foodporn hashtag.
 
Fitness 
 
Ha! Ha! Good one, Cam. If you know me in real life, you’ll be well aware that I am super pale, sickly, dramatically asthmatic (no, seriously) and generally do not look like someone who is #bodygoals at any given time. Despite this, I love to run and to swim. I do my best. Occasionally, I dabble in yoga (at present, however, I am nursing a broken heart and am favouring more intense exercise as a form of REVENGE).
 
Rest assured, I suck at both running AND swimming (I didn’t learn to swim until I was fourteen), but maybe you can help me achieve some kind of fitness level or goal. We can encourage one another to get out there and get moving. I do think exercise is an important part of life, but as a normal person with a normal body you will not find me hanging out in the weights area sipping a kale smoothie because, well, I’m probably in bed with a slice of toast and a hangover.
 
Mental health 
 
Okay, this is where it gets a bit heavy.
 
I am someone who struggles with mental health problems. Throughout my teenage years, I had anorexia, which was incredibly debilitating. Thankfully, I got the help I needed and have recovered fully from that awful disorder. But it’s still something I talk about a lot and fight every single day – yes, I live a normal life and eat what I like, when I like (hence why I don’t restrict myself cheese or cake or chocolate if I want it), but the problems which anorexia developed as a coping mechanism for, still remain, and I struggle massively with body insecurity.
 
These problems take the form of depression and anxiety. Panic attacks, SSRIs, all that jazz. And sometimes it makes every day a struggle.
 
Mental health forms a big part of our media coverage today. But what is “mental health”? How do we know when it’s “bad” or when it’s “good”? And what can we do to not feel like crap all the time?
 
I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some of them. Whether it’s books, or lifestyle changes, or quotes or websites or whatever, I hope to share what works for me. By letting you inside my mind, maybe you’ll see that you’re not alone, or be able to help a friend going through this stuff.
 
I am in no way qualified to give advice, so all I can do is share my experiences. Some of them are funny, and some are sad, but they’re all real, and from my heart. And if I got through them, you can too!
 
Travel 
 
I am fairly intrepid and I have some stories to share, mostly about the times I have visited Africa to spend my summers working with primates. One time I got hit in the head with a rock thrown by a chimpanzee! Also once I landed a drone a bit too near someone’s face. OOPS.
 
This September, I, a typical Yorkshire lass from the UK, will be moving to Croatia for SIX YEARS. From what I have described about myself, that seems crazy, doesn’t it!¬†So I will definitely be posting about what it’s like to prepare to move away for such a long time, being an international student, and what life is like away from home.
 
Everything else 
 
I hope to share some of what I learn from my veterinary studies, as well as keeping up-to-date with anthropology. I promise to make it at least a little bit interesting, and not too gross. I’ll also be sharing music that is cheerful and uplifting, as I think music can do a lot to change your mood! Finally, I might share some of my fictional writing, some of which I’m quite proud of. Oh, and probably some “fashion” too. This will mostly involve me wearing brightly patterned shirts and grinning like a maniac because apparently I live in the 80s, despite the fact I wasn’t alive then. There’ll be some funny stories from university and from my family life, too. Plus I have a puppy, so watch out for pictures of him.
 
Anyway, enough rambling. I have a flight to catch. But I hope you are excited! I certainly am.
 
Love,
 
Cam
 
first post

It me! I was trying to show off my shoes but I look a bit silly instead. Still, you win some, you lose some.