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Anthropology | Jeannette Mageo

Ph.D., University of California, Santa Cruz
Cultural Anthropology

Research Interests

Psychological anthropology, self, dreams, cultural memory, historical ethnography, child development and attachment, gender and sexuality, art/artifacts and photography, Oceania and the US.


Self and Culture (ANTH 404); Psychological Anthropology (ANTH 521); Advances in Cultural Theory (ANTH 507); Publishing and Professional Communication (ANTH 593)

Current Research

beach-mageoJeannette Mageo is a psychological anthropologist. Her work focuses on dreaming and the self, on child development, and on how subjectivity, identity, and emotion evolve out of cultural and historical experiences. Since 1980, she has been involved in research and publication on Samoan culture, history, and psychology. In 2003, she began studying U.S. culture through dreams. In recent years she has turned to examine the collision of Samoan and European cultures and psychologies in the colonial encounter through performance art, historical photos, and colonial artifacts. Dr. Mageo has also researched and published on gender and sexuality, transvestism, prehistory, folklore, and spirit possession. She consulted for and appeared in a documentary made for Channel 4 in Britain, Paradise Bent: Boys will be Girls in Samoa, which is framed by her historical interpretation of Samoan transvestism.

Representative Publications

2021 Jeannette Mageo and Bruce Knauft (eds). Authenticity, Authorship, and Pacific Island Encounters: New Lives of Old Imaginaries. Berghahn Press for the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania (ASAO) monograph series.

2020 Jeannette Mageo and Robin Sheriff (eds.). New Directions in the Anthropology of Dreaming, New York: Routledge

2019 “Mimesis and Developing Models of Self and Other.” Culture and Psychology.

2019 “Young Americans’ Dreaming in the Specular Age,” with Robin Sheriff, University of New Hampshire, Ethos.

2019 “Ambiguity as Dream Mentation: Super-masculinity and Ambivalence in American Dreams,” Ethos 47(3):326-345.

2018 “Mimesis, Models, Metaphors, and Feet in American Dreams.” Ethos 46(2):254-274.

2017 “Nightmares, Abjection, and American Not-quite Identities.” Dreaming 27(4):290-310. Dreaming is a publication of the American Psychological Association.

2017 Mimesis and Pacific Transcultural Encounters: Making Likeness in Time, in Trade, and Ritual Reconfigurations. Co-edited with Elfriede Hermann (Gottingen University). New York: Berghahn Press.

2016 “Dream Transformations of the ‘American’ Pinup Model for Sexuality.” Anthropology and Humanism, 41(2):178-195. Anthropology and Humanism is a publication of the American Anthropological Association.

2015   “Cultural Psychodynamics: The Audit, the Mirror, and the ‘American Dream.’” Current Anthropology, 56(6).

2013 Attachment Reconsidered: Cultural Perspectives on a Western Theory. Naomi Quinn and Jeannette Mageo, eds. New York: Palgrave-MacMillian, in the Society for Psychological Anthropology’s series.

2013 “Dreaming and its Discontents: US Cultural Models in the Theater of Dreams.”Ethos 41(4):387-410.

2012 “Dreaming Sexed Identities and Althusser.” Anthropology and Humanism 37.1.

2011 Dreaming Culture: Meanings, Models, and Power in U.S. American Dreams.New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

2011 “Empathy and Attachment in Samoa.” The Anthropology of Empathy: Experiencing the Lives of Others (Douglas Hollan and Jason Throop, eds.), pp. 69-93.  New York: Berghahn.

2010  “Transforming Will, Transforming Culture” In Toward an Anthropology of the Will (Jason Throop and Keith M. Murphy, eds.), pp. 123-139. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

2010 “Internalization and the Dream: The U.S. Cinderella Model of Sexuality and Agency.”  Anthropological Theory 10(3):229-247.

2010 “Race, Gender, and Foreign Exchange in Samoan Performing Arts.”Anthropological Forum 20(3):269-289. For a special issue on Imagination and Innovation in the Pacific.

2008 “Zones of Ambiguity and Identity Politics in Samoa,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 14:61 -78

2006 “Figurative Dream Analysis and U.S. Traveling Identities.” Ethos 13(4):456-487.

2005 “Male Gender Instability and War.” Peace Review 17(1):73-80.


2003 Dreaming and the Self: New Perspectives on Subjectivity, feasting-mageoIdentity, and Emotion. Edited volume State University of New York Press (SUNY), for their series on dreaming.

2002 “Toward a Multidimensional Model of the Self.” Journal of Anthropological Research. 58:339-365.

2002 Power and the Self. Edited Volume. Cambridge University Press.

2001 “Dream Play and Discovering Cultural Psychology.” Ethos. 29:187-217.

2001 Cultural Memory: Reconfirguring History and Identity in the Pacific. Edited Volume. Univeristy of Hawai’i Press.

2000 “Toward Historicizing Gender in Polynesia: On Vilsoni Hereniko’s Woven Gods and Regional Patterns.” Pacific Studies 22:93-121.

1998 Theorizing Self in Samoa: Emotions, Genders and Sexualities. Univeristy of Michigan Press.

1996 Spirits in Culture, History, and Mind. Co-Edited with Alan Howard (University of Hawai’i). Routledge.

1996 “Samoa, on the Wilde Side: Male Tranvestism, Oscar Wilde, and Limnality in Making Gender.” Ethos. 24(4):588-627.

1996 “Spirit Girls and Marines: Possession and Ethnopsychiatry as Historical Discourse in Samoa.”American children-mageoEthnologist 23:61-82.


1995 “The Reconfiguring Self.”American Anthropologist. 97:282-296.

1994Hairdos and Don’ts: Hair Symbolism and Sexual History in Samoa.” Man 29:407-432.

1992 “Male Transvestism and Cultural Change in Samoa.” American Ethnologist. 19:443-459.

1991 “Samoan Moral Discourse and the Loto.” American Anthropologist. 93:405-420.

1991 “Inhibitions and Compensations: A Study of the Effects of Negative Sanctions in Three Pacific Cultures.” (1991). Pacific Studies 14:1-40.

1988 “Malosi: An Exploration of the Mead/Freeman Controversy and of Samoan Aggression.” (1988). Pacific Studies 11(2):25-65.

Graduate Students

Anna Jordan, MA
Arian Karimitar, Ph.D.
Matthew Newsom, Ph.D.
Skylar Westbrook Paul
Jordan Prokosch

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Contact Information

College Hall 224

Curriculum Vitae


Dreaming Culture

    Mageo Dreaming Culture Cover

Dreaming and the Self

webpic dreaming and the self

Power and the Self

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Cultural Memory

webpic Cultural Memory

Theorizing Self in Samoa

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Spirits in Culture, History, and Mind

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Attachment Reconsidered

Mageo Attachment Reconsidered