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Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
telephone (757) 683-5350
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Papers of Dr. Susan Kent

Scope and Contents - Series Descriptions - Access - Container Listing


Dr. Susan Kent

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.

Scope and Contents

Material dates from 1975 to 2002, with most of the material falling dating in the late 1980's and the 1990's. Material includes correspondence; Anthropology course materials; ODU Sociology and Criminal Justice Department minutes, reports, and other papers; Anthropology and archaeology articles, papers, notes from Dr. Kent's field excursions; and various other items.

Series Descriptions

Series I: ODU Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice (includes Anthropology)

Includes blank exams and study guides for classes taught by Dr. Kent; Instructors guides and study modules; an annual report; executive committee minutes; departmental receipts and invoices (mainly for books); and nomination letters for Dr. Kent. Material dates from 1986 to 2001.

Series II: Research Materials

Sub-series A: Africa Included are Dr. Kent's field notes and inventories from her expeditions with the Basarwa (Bushmen) and Bakgalagadi in Kutse, Botswana as well as her published papers on the subject. Material dates from 1988 to 1995.

Sub-series B: North America Contains anthropology papers on various topics, including a 1975 paper by Dr. Kent titled "An Analysis of Northwest Coast Combs with Special Emphasis on those from Ozette"

Sub-series E: Data Contains additional inventories, maps, pictures, and inventories from the 1977 Navajo Indian Irrigation Project.surveys and SAS computer data.;

Series III: Miscellaneous

Includes general correspondence from 1987 to 2002; travel information.


The collection is open to researchers without restrictions. Questions about literary property rights should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian.


1.26 Linear Feet. 3 Hollinger Boxes.

Collection Number

RG 17-13B1

Container Listing

Series I: ODU Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice (includes Anthropology)

Box 1

Folder 1: Annual Report: July 1, 1985 - June 30, 1986
Folder 2: Exams and Study Guides 1992, 1995, 1997, 2000
Folder 3: Executive Committee Minutes, September 18, 1990
Folder 4: Evaluation Letters
Folder 5: Receipts and Invoices 1995-2001
Folder 6: Tenure

Series II: Research Materials

Sub-series A: Africa

Folder 1: Bushmen
Folder 2: Items Left at Abandoned Pigmy Camps
Folder 3: Notes: June-July 1988 I
Folder 4: Notes: June-July 1988 II
Folder 5: Notes: December 1989-January 1990
Folder 6: Notes: 1990-1993
Folder 7: Notes: June 1991
Folder 8: Notes: May-June 1989
Folder 9: Notes: May-June 1992

Box 2

Folder 1: Notes: May-June 1993
Folder 2: Notes: 1995
Folder 3: Notes: Hut/Site diagrams and measurements (n.d.)
Folder 4: Notes: Miscellaneous I (n.d.)
Folder 5: Notes: Miscellaneous II (n.d.)

Box 3

Sub-series B: North America
Folder 1: "An Analysis of Northwest Catacombs with Special Emphasis on those from Ozette" 1975
Folder 2: Food and Nutrition
Folder 3: Navajo Indian Irrigation Project - Block II Maps
Folder 4: Navajo Indian Irrigation Project - Site 20, August 1977
Folder 5: Navajo Indian Irrigation Project - Site 31, October 1977
Folder 6: Navajo Indian Irrigation Project - Site 32, October 1977

Sub-series C: Data

Folder 7: Gender Computer Raw Data and Surveys 1994
Folder 8: "Nancy" Computer Raw Data (n.d.)
Folder 9: Race Computer Modeling - Simulation

Series III: Miscellaneous

Folder 10: Chobe Game Lodge, Kasane, Botswana
Folder 11: "Concluding Discussion: the Role of Actualism Studies"
Folder 12: Itinerary, Mali Archaeological Tour, April 17, 1996
Folder 13: Professional and Personal Correspondence 1987-2002

Revised 5/4/10