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Susan Kent Papers

Collection ID: RG 17-13B1

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence, department minutes, articles, papers, and other material pertaining to Susan Kent, a professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Old Dominion University. The collection also includes research material from Dr. Kent's site visits to Africa and her work on the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project.


  • 1975-2003, undated
  • Other: Date acquired: 00/00/2003



1.20 Linear Feet

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, and the holder of the copyright, if not Old Dominion University Libraries.

Biographical or Historical Information

Susan Kent was born in 1952. In 1977, she took part in a New Mexico State University archaeological dig called the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project. In 1980, she received her Ph.D. For her doctoral dissertation, she studied spatial patterning of the Navajo Indians, Spanish Americans, and rural and urban Euro-Americans. In the early 1980's she studied the Pueblo II Mesa Verde Anasazi in southwestern Colorado. From 1985-86 she served as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Kentucky. Later in 1986, she joined the Old Dominion University (ODU) faculty to teach anthropology. At the time she arrived at ODU, she had five years of teaching experience, and an excellent record of scholarship and publication. In 1996, Kent was named a full professor. In 1999, she received the Charles O. and Elisabeth C. Burgess Faculty Research and Creativity Award. Also that year, she was elected to the American Anthropology Association's Committee on the Status of Women in Anthropology. As of February 2000, she was editor of the Archaeology Division column for the American Anthropological Association newsletter; on the Steering Committee of Build Form and Culture Research Association, and belonged to eight national and international professional associations. Also, in 2000, she was named an eminent scholar of anthropology at ODU for her consistent record of outstanding scholarly publications and her international reputation in the field of anthropology. Her works have appeared in journals published in Japan, Botswana, England, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia. In 2001, she received the Distinguished Scholar in Anthropology award from the Virginia Social Sciences Association. Kent was elected to the executive board of the American Anthropological Association for a three-year term that began in November 2002. In early 2003, she was elected as a member to the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society. This is only a partial list of her many involvements and achievements. Kent was an expert on hunters and gatherers. As part of her ethnographic fieldwork, she studied numerous people including the Navajo and Tulalip Indians, Euro-Americans, and Spanish-speaking Americans. Her most extensive and long-term work was her field research in Botswana. Every summer from 1987 to 1995, and then again in 1997 and 2000, Kent spent considerable time studying the Bushmen and Bakgalagadi (Bantu-speakers) in the Kalahari Desert. The Bushmen, also known as Basarwa and San are a formerly nomadic people. In recent decades, they have been encouraged by government incentives to discard their nomadic lifestyle and settle. Incentives have included free food and drilling wells so these people no longer need to move about in search of these necessities. Special topics of interest for Kent were the use of space, gender roles, ethnoarchaeology, and health issues in these people. With regard to health issues, she was particularly interested in anemia and hemoglobin levels in hunter-gatherer peoples. While studying the Bushmen, she surveyed their dietary practices and monitored medical examinations of these people. In the field of archaeology, she excavated sites that range in date from Paleo-Indian societies to historic twentieth century sites of Native Americans. During the summers of 1998 and 1999, she surveyed and excavated African Stone Age sites including the Caledon River Valley in South Africa. Kent was author, editor, or co-author of at least 10 books, and numerous scholarly papers. She published over sixty book chapters. Her books included: Analyzing Activity Areas: An Ethnoarchaeological Study of the Use of Space (1984); Method and Theory For Activity Area Research (1987); Farmers as Hunters: The Implications of Sedentism (1989); Diet, Demography, and Disease (1992); Domestic Architecture and the Use of Space: An Interdisciplinary Cross-cultural Study (1993); Cultural Diversity Among Twentieth-century Foragers (1996); Gender in African Prehistory (1998); and Ethnicity, Hunter-Gatherers, and the "Other: Association or Assimilation in Africa" (2002). Her papers have included: "Does Sedentism Impact Traditional Gender Roles: A Case Study from the Kalahari" at the International Conference on Hunter-Gatherers in Moscow, Russia (1993); "Fact or Fiction: The Presence of Oscillating Economies Among Hunter-Gatherers of Southern Africa" at the international Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies in Osaka, Japan (1998); "Correlation Does Not Equal Causation: Race and Hemoglobin Means Among North American Blacks" at the 96th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Washington, D.C. (1998); "For Love or Hate: Southern African Hunter-gather's Interactions with Agropastoralists" at the Society for American Archaeology Conference in Seattle (1998); "Sleeping Under the Stars: Cross-cultural Study of the Use of Outdoor and Indoor Space" which she presented at the National Society for American Archaeology conference in Chicago (1999); "Is There an Archaeology of Domestic Space?" to the Harvard University Department of Anthropology (2000); and "Are All Households Equal? Household Archaeology in the 21st Century" which she presented at the Society for American Archaeology National Annual Conference (2001). Susan Kent died on April 13, 2003 in Milwaukee, where she was attending the Annual Meeting of the American Archaeological Association. A memorial service was held for her at ODU on April 29, 2003.

Note written by Mel Frizzell

Language of Materials



Dr. Kent served as a professor of anthropology from 1986 until 2003. She was an expert on hunters and gatherers. Her most extensive field work was her study of the Bushmen and Bakgalagadi of Africa. Collection includes material from her time at ODU, her field notes, and other research material.

Arrangement Note

The collection is organized into three series: Series I: ODU Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice; Series II: Research Materials; and Series III: Miscellaneous.

Source of Acquisition

The family of Susan Kent

Method of Acquisition

Gift. Accession #A2003-4

Processing Information

The collection was processed and finding aid created by Mel Frizzell, Special Collections Assistant, in 2004.

A Guide to the Susan Kent Papers
Mel Frizzell
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the ODU University Archives Repository

3000 Perry Library
4427 Hampton Blvd.
Norfolk VA 23529 US