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Fred B. Kniffen: A Special Kind of Anthropologist

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Abstract

Fred Kniffen not uncommonly referred to himself as a "special kind of anthropologist"–in contradistinction to another University of California, Berkeley product, Andrew Clark, whom he referred to as a "special kind of historian. " Such a self-characterization serves as a guide that allows us to bring together Kniffen's training at Berkeley, his sympathy for the historical school in anthropology, his work on native Americans, and his classic studies of folk housing. In this review, we see how Kniffen used an objective concept of culture to attend to the question of areal differentiation in a manner that resulted in a unique perspective on how a people's living gets inscribed on the landscape. Such a perspective on the inscription of people's lives upon the landscape finds a place in the current concept of culture as text and thus demonstrates, once again, the special quality that Kniffen s work possesses.

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Fred Bowerman Kniffen's academic career started in the 1920s at a time when cultural geography in North America was getting underway. For more than 60 years, Kniffen played a prominent role in its formation and elaboration. His contribution centered on material cultural studies, particularly folk housing, and the patterns and processes of the diffusion of the cultural elements of ordinary people. However, Kniffen's legacy within contemporary cultural geography extends beyond these central concerns. This essay examines Kniffen's relation to mass or popular culture studies, material culture studies, Berkeley school cultural geography and the "new" cultural geography. It considers the bases for Kniffen 's appeal to a diverse following, and suggests why his contributions will not be soon outmoded.
Achomawi Geography" (Berkeley: University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology
  • Fred B Kniffen
Fred B. Kniffen, "Achomawi Geography" (Berkeley: University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, Vol. 23, 1928), pp. 297-332.
Kniffen Professor of Geography and Anthro-pology in the Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge 70803. Downloaded by
  • Miles Richardson
Miles Richardson is the Fred B. Kniffen Professor of Geography and Anthro-pology in the Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge 70803. Downloaded by [University of Alberta] at 03:27 31 December 2014