Anthropology Department Directory


Robert V. Kemper


Ph.D. 1971 University of California, Berkeley
Heroy Hall 405

In Memoriam - Dr. Kemper passed away, Friday, November 8, 2013

Fellow, American Anthropological Association

Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Fellow, Society for Applied Anthropology

  • Urban studies
  • Migration
  • Applied anthropology
  • Urban ministry
  • Religion and society
  • Bilingual education
  • Ethnic identity and multiculturalism
  • Consumer behavior
  • Family and household development
  • Social networks
  • Field research methodologies
  • Tourism
  • Culture change
  • History of anthropology
  • Computer applications
  • Mexico (especially Michoacan, Mexico City)
  • United States (especially Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area)
  • Mexican-American Immigrants
  • Latin America

Courses Taught

ANTH 3311 - Mexico: From Conquest to Cancun
CF 3333 - Clash of Cultures: 1450-1850
ANTH 3346 - Culture and Diversity in American Life
ANTH 3368 - Urban Life: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (co-listed with SOCI 3368)
ANTH 4309/6309 - Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples and Nation States
ANTH 5334 - History of Anthropology, Part 1
ANTH 6306 - Anthropology and Education
ANTH 6332 - Special Problems in Anthropology - Research in Hispanic Community
ANTH 6363 - Transforming Local Communities
ANTH 7333 - Data Analysis


Robert Van Kemper has authored and edited ten books and nine journal special issues, published 64 journal articles, written 62 book chapters, and numerous book reviews. His most recent works include two articles titled, "Dallas-Fort Worth: Toward New Models of Urbanization, Community Transformation, and Immigration" and "From Freedom's Town to Uptown: Community Transformation and Gentrification in Dallas" in the journal Urban Anthropology. He currently is writing a textbook on urban anthropology (forthcoming, 2007). Kemper's current interest in faith-based communities is reflected in a recently published chapter, "The World As It Should Be: Faith-Based Community Development in America" with Julie Adkins in Community Building in the Twenty-First Century, School of American Research Press, 2005.

Urban anthropology in Mexico and the United States

Well-known as a pioneer in the field of urban anthropology, Professor Kemper is interested in how people live in the large places we call cities - whether in the enormity of metropolitan Mexico City, in the transitional neighborhoods of Dallas' Oak Cliff, or in the post-modernism of Dallas' Uptown. He is especially concerned with how people interact when they move between cities and smaller communities. The comparative data from his long-term study of households in the community of Tzintzuntzan in Mexico City provide the basis for understanding the impact of migration on community development in that area for the past 100 years.

Campesinos en la Ciudad was his first monograph-length report on the project, starting with fewer than 75 households in Mexico City and now involves over 3,000 households throughout Mexico and the United States. Kemper finds that migration not only influences patterns of family life but affects community development through tourism. For example, when a father migrates and his spouse stays behind with their children, social stress usually increases, even though the household's standard of living may rise over time. For this reason, families try to assemble all of their members in the places of destination, whether in Mexico City or in Los Angeles, Chicago or Tacoma - despite difficulties under current U.S. laws. Likewise, in spite of the problems of going back to their home community, the immigrants in Kemper's study continue to support arts and crafts.

Research Projects

Principal Investigator, "The Hispanic Transportation System in the Dallas-Fort Worth Region," November 2004-2009.

Co-Principal Investigator (with Alice Kendrick), "Why Do Kids Go to the Movies? An Ethnographic Approach," (Zenith OptiMedia), August 2007-May 2008.

Principal Investigator, "An Ethnographic Approach to Shopping Behavior: A Pilot Study," (Frito-Lay North America), December 2005.

Principal Investigator, "SIM-tzuntzan: A Web-based Site for Instruction in Cultural Anthropology" (SMU Provost), June 2003-May 2004, continuation June 2004-May 2005.


For a complete listing of Dr. Kemper's publications, please click here.

Memberships and Affiliations:
American Ethnological Society
Association of Borderlands Scholars
Association of Latina & Latino Anthropologists
Council on Anthropology and Education
Kroeber Anthropological Society
Latin American Studies Association
Society for the Anthropology of North America
Society for Latin American Anthropology
Society for Urban Anthropology