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Anthropology | In Memoriam-Dr. Jeannette Mageo
Jeannette Mageo

It is with sadness that we share the news that Professor Jeannette Mageo passed away on February 12, 2023. A rigorous and prolific academic, her commitment to scholarship was both admirable and inspirational. Dr. Mageo made invaluable contributions in the anthropology of dreaming, psychological anthropology, historical anthropology, and the anthropology of Samoa. Her research on dreams brought a robust and unique lens to the study of self, power and inequality, storytelling and narratives, and human subjectivity. Colleagues have described her prolific work as “advancing both theory and method” and addressing “issues of great urgency to anthropology,” but also as “powerful,” “thought-provoking,” and “oftentimes dazzling.” Indeed, her 2022 book The Mimetic Nature of Dream Mentation: American Selves in Re-formation (Palgrave) was recently awarded The Boyer Prize, recognized by the Society of Psychological Anthropology for its contributions to psychoanalytic anthropology.


Dr. Mageo joined the faculty at WSU in 1993 after completing her PhD at UC Santa Cruz in 1979. Previously, she held positions at institutions including UC San Diego, University of Hawai’i, and American Samoa Community College. Here at WSU, her sought-after course “Self in Culture” brought the insights of her work to Pullman and Global campus students. The course focused on the development of the self within cultural context, alongside dream analysis methods which taught the students lived application of these theories of personhood. Dr. Mageo supervised many current and past graduate students, including eight completed MAs and PhDs; her students have gone on to hold positions inside and outside of academia. As former chair and senator in WSU’s Faculty Senate, Dr. Mageo amplified faculty voices and sought  transparency in institutional decisions. Jeannette was an incredible asset to the department of anthropology, as a scholar, mentor, colleague, and friend. She will be missed and will live on through the work of all to whom she is beloved.




To read more about Dr. Mageo’s influential career, see her faculty page and this short list of her recent and well-known works:

  • Mageo, J., & Knauft, B. (Eds.) (2021) Authenticity, Authorship, and Pacific Island Encounters: New Lives of Old Imaginaries. Berghahn Press.
  • Mageo, J. (2015) Cultural psychodynamics: The audit, the mirror, and the American Dream. Current Anthropology 56, 883-900.
  • Mageo, J.M. (Ed.) (2002) Power and the Self. Cambridge University Press.
  • Mageo, J.M. (1998) Theorizing Self in Samoa: Emotions, Genders, and Sexualities. University of Michigan Press.
  • Mageo, J.M. (1992) Male transvestism and cultural change in Samoa. American Ethnologist 19(3), 443-459.