About the Site:
Curiously Human is a space dedicated to the understanding and discussion of all aspects of anthropology. Whether you are a fellow anthropologist, student who needs a site for study or someone who is simply curious about human evolution; this site will provide you with the means to begin understanding anthropology
“Anthropology is the only discipline that can access evidence about the entire human experience on this planet” -Michael Brian Schiffer
Hello dear readers! My name is Isabella Vinsonhaler.
Throughout my early childhood, travel and movement were always a constant. Being half American and half French, I often found myself juggling cultural expectations. I split my time living on several different continents and my appreciation for culture and history developed. I was born in Binghamton, NY, but moved to Versailles, France as an infant with my American mother and French father. Due to my father’s employment, I also spent several years living in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, a predominantly Muslim city. This experience allowed me to gain an insider’s view of this demographic. During this period of my life, I would accompany my father on expeditions to the largest existing sand desert, the Rub al-Khali, and interact with one of its inhabitant tribes, the Bani Yas. One of my vivid childhood memories is of these people on the final day of Ramadan known as Eid al-Fitr. Neither my father nor I are Muslim, so we had not participated in the fasting of Ramadan. Regardless, the Bani Yas warmly invited us to join them as honored guests on the final day.
When I was seven, I returned to the United States and continued grade school in Providence, Utah where my maternal grandparents lived. My mother and I then moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico (home of the Manhattan Project) and then on to a small coastal Californian city called Solvang (pronounced like ‘tallfang’). Solvang was established in 1911 as a Danish colony in the sunny, warm climate of California, an immense contrast from the frigid winters of Denmark. Many of Solvang’s people are 1st, or 2nd generation Danes, including my stepdad, and are very culturally affiliated with their traditions. It was here that I had my first experience with museum curation and cultural work, volunteering with my mother as a docent for the Elverhⱷj Museum of History and Art.
After high school graduation, I moved to Boulder, Colorado where I would complete Bachelor’s degrees in Anthropology and Russian Studies, and later a Master’s degree in Biological Anthropology. In the summer 2015, I was Lead Museum Curator for the Baldpate Inn located in Estes Park, Colorado. There I created a historical photo exhibit for permanent display. As lead Curator, I was required to provide a guest lecture on the Inn’s history and the new exhibit.
In 2016, I compiled an exhibit of archived artifacts from Bougainville Island during WWII for proposal to the Board of Trustees at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History. The exhibit included a media display of edited video clips and photographs of the Pacific Campaign along with multiple text panels describing the events. These panels used different narrative voices: an American soldier, an indigenous tribe member, and an anthropologist. Collaborating with team members, I was required to understand all underpinnings of curation and educational programs within the university and museum. My experiences in the field of museum studies showed me how certain individuals, depending on their past experiences and associated cultural identity, expressed their views towards cultural assimilation and identity in either positively or negatively. Experiences and views such as these are overall very common in today’s world. Increased mobility and conflict has allowed for many individuals to immigrate away from their homeland. Whether an active or inactive response it is within the global communities’ interest to ensure cooperative assimilation between two differentiating culture to thus limit negative internal conflict.
My experiences in dealing with various cultural identities, as well as a continued passion for understanding how individuals coexist within their environment, led me to pursue a Bachelor’s of Arts in Anthropology and Russian Studies. In 2014 Dr. Matthew Sponheimer and Mr. Oliver Paine selected me to work in the University of Colorado-Boulder’s Nutritional Isotopic Ecology Laboratory (NIEL) based on my passion and academic success in anthropology and ecology. Tasked with analyzing the chemical composition of foods, bone, and sediments I realized the enormous impact that both nutritional value and ecology has on humanity. In the summer of 2014, I participated in a study abroad program in Russia, which allowed me to personally encounter the people and culture that I learned about during my studies.
Additionally, also participated the field research assignments conducted at the World Heritage site in Sozopol, Bulgaria. There I excavated the 7th century BC town and necropolis of Apollonia Pontica with the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Influenced by my second degree in Anthropology, I found myself attempting to understand both Russian and Bulgarian cultural identity. Throughout my time there I observed, asked questions and limited my consumption to traditional/common foods, activities and media. In doing so, I experienced a profound personal connection with the people I came into contact with and a more genuine observation of their relationship with their cultural traditions and political stance.
After receiving two Bachelors of Arts degrees at the University of Colorado at Boulder, I decided to continue my research and education, going on to obtain a Master’s of Arts in Biological Anthropology and officially become a cat mom. While continuing research at NEIL laboratory I decided to conduct a pilot study, of my own design, on two grocery stores in different socioeconomic levels. This led to several papers and presentations, as well as opening my eyes to the critical importance of diet and nutrition. I recently have had the opportunity to work in Mosselbaii, South Africa under the Provincial Heritage site known as Pinnacle Point Project (PP56). There I obtained experience working with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Geographic Information System (GIS) to categorize and excavate microliths, bone and shell material dating back to 190,000 years ago.
Anthropology provides a crucial link of communication between our human cultural past and future that is useful to many aspects of society and should be brought to the foreground of education and social norms in order to advance and improve all populations across our global community. My life experiences have allowed for a personal understanding of marginal communities as well as an understanding of cultural identity. These experiences have solidified my passion in biological anthropology as well as commit to using my skills to further aid and inform individuals of humanities wide diversity. And, I hope that in time this blog can contribute to the inspiration and knowledge of the field and in you dear readers.
If you are interested in working together or exchange interesting information, feel free to hire me, put me on television or contact me!