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May 3rd, 2006

infant-mother attachment

It turns out that the main library on campus is offering free cookies, milk, and coffee during finals week if you go late enough in the evening. Taking a break to enjoy the treats was a nice diversion from the ten hours of studying that Yuka, Takashi, and I put in today. The sad part is that we're still not entirely sure about some of the questions listed on the study guide for our final - but hopefully we should have those taken care of by tomorrow afternoon. Our current sentiment is that we'll only need to think about archaeology for another two days and, after that, we'll never need to worry about it again.
* * * *

Earlier in the evening I met with one of the adjunct faculty within the university's Anthropology Department who also happens to be the new wife of one of my other professors. She was looking for someone to participate in a cultural anthropology project over the next two semesters and had several people suggest my name to her. Five years ago she travelled to the Central African Republic with psychologist Michael E. Lamb of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH) to record video footage of infant-mother attachment in both Aka Pygmies of the Congo Basin rainforest and Ngandu farmers in neighboring villages. The Ngandu have claimed to be hereditary owners of the Aka for over 2,000 years, although they don't dare follow the Aka when they enter the rainforest due to a belief that the forest is inhabited by spirits. There's an interesting social exchange between these two groups, and if you ever have the chance to watch Caterpillar Moon it does an excellent job of highlighting the details.

Our work will involve going through videocassettes and recording the occurrence of certain behaviors between infants and their mothers during 'natural' and 'stranger' settings, comparing this data with conventional attachment theories and models, and possibly publishing a paper some time in the spring. I would start work in the beginning of June, and although I can't afford to take any credits over the summer we might be able to work something out where the credits are applied during the fall semester instead. This, to go along with the possibility of conducting palynology research with coprolites (fossilized feces) and a senior thesis related to the influence of local indigenous languages within France on the regional dialects spoken within the langue d'oïl heard today.

First I win the department's highest award in my first year at the university, and now I have faculty members asking if I would be interested in doing work that would normally be considered a Master's Degree project? Amazing!