1st Edition

New Directions in the Anthropology of Dreaming

Edited By Jeannette Mageo, Robin E. Sheriff Copyright 2021
    250 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    250 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book presents new directions in contemporary anthropological dream research, surveying recent theorizations of dreaming that are developing both in and outside of anthropology. It incorporates new findings in neuroscience and philosophy of mind while demonstrating that dreams emerge from and comment on sociohistorical and cultural contexts.

    The chapters are written by prominent anthropologists working at the intersection of culture and consciousness who conduct ethnographic research in a variety of settings around the world, and reflect how dreaming is investigated by a range of informants in ever more diverse sites. As well as theorizing the dream in light of current anthropological and psychological research, the volume accounts for local dream theories and how they are situated within distinct cultural ontologies. It considers dreams as a resource for investigating and understanding cultural change;  dreaming as a mode of thinking through, contesting, altering, consolidating, or escaping from identity; and the nature of dream mentation.

    In proposing new theoretical approaches to dreaming, the editors situate the topic within the recent call for an "anthropology of the night" and illustrate how dreams offer insight into current debates within anthropology’s mainstream. This up-to-date book defines a twenty-first century approach to culture and the dream that will be relevant to scholars from anthropology as well as other disciplines such as religious studies, the neurosciences, and psychology.

    Part I: Introduction

    1. Defining New Directions in the Anthropology of Dreaming

    Jeannette Mageo

    2. The Anthropology of Dreaming in Historical Perspective

    Robin E. Sheriff

    Part II: New Theoretical Approaches to Dreaming: Implications for Culture and Identity

    3. Metaphors We Dream By: On the Nature of Dream Cognition

    Jeannette Mageo

    4. Identity and Memory in Germany: The Defensive Role of Dreams

    Matthew D. Newsom

    5. Dreaming Bloody Murder: Women’s Dreams of Mortal Threat, True Crime Culture, and Metonyms of Gendered Vulnerability

    Robin E. Sheriff

    6. Dream Sharing, Play, and Cultural Creativity

    Kelly Bulkeley

    Part III: Dream Cultures: Theoretical and Ontological Perspectives

    7. Out-of-Body on the Happy Hunting Road: Dialogues between Dreaming and Culture in Papua New Guinea

    Roger Ivar Lohmann

    8. Taking Dreams Seriously: An Ontological–Phenomenological Approach to Tzotzil Maya Dream Culture

    Kevin P. Groark

    9. Godly Dreams: Muslim Encounters with the Divine

    Amira Mittermaier

    10. Life is But a Dream: Culture and Science in the Study of Tibetan Dream Yoga and Lucid Dreamig

    Bruce M. Knauft

    Afterword: On the Varieties and Particularities of Dreaming

    Douglas Hollan


    Jeannette Mageo is a professor of anthropology at Washington State University, USA.

    Robin E. Sheriff is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of New Hampshire, USA.