Robin Sheriff

Phone: (603) 862-2162
Office: Anthropology, Huddleston Hall, Durham, NH 03824
photo of Robin Sheriff

Robin E. Sheriff is a cultural anthropologist with a BA from Bard College and a PhD (1997) in Anthropology from the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. Her previous work concerns race and racism in Brazil, with a focus on Rio de Janeiro. In documenting how racism is experienced by ordinary Brazilians of African descent, she contributed to a growing national discussion that led to significant policy changes in Brazil. She has published articles in American Anthropologist, Cultural Anthropology and the Journal of Latin American Anthropology. Her book Dreaming Equality: Color, Race and Racism in Urban Brazil (Rutgers 2001) describes her 20 months of fieldwork in a hillside favela in Rio.

Robin Sheriff’s current work focuses on nighttime dreaming and its links to history, culture, and sociality. Growing out of her seminar on the anthropology of dreams and dreaming, this research project investigates the dreams of emerging adults in the US, and gives special attention to the prominent and changing roles of media and technology in both waking and dreaming states. Her article, “Dreaming of the Kardashians” (Ethos 2017), for example, looks at the influence of reality television and social media on today’s generation of college students. Through an examination of dreams, she has developed, with Jeannette Mageo, the concept of specularity—the increasing tendency of young Americans to persistently imagine themselves as if seen through a camera’s lens (Ethos 2019). This and other concepts highlight ongoing research on the shifts in consciousness occasioned by round-the-clock engagement with smart technology.


  • Ph.D., Anthropology, City University of New York
  • B.A., Anthropology, Bard College

Research Interests

  • Brazil
  • Dreaming and culture
  • Multispecies ethnography
  • Race and racism
  • Sociocultural anthropology
  • United States

Courses Taught

  • ANTH 510: Animals, Identity, and Culture
  • ANTH 611: History Anthropological Theory
  • ANTH 625: Sexuality in Cross-Cultural
  • ANTH 700: Internship
  • ANTH 785: Dreams and Dreaming

Selected Publications

Sheriff, R. E., & Chin, E. J. (2020). Shopping dreams: Oneiric imagination, consumption, and identity projects among US young adults. JOURNAL OF CONSUMER CULTURE. doi:10.1177/1469540520955220

Sheriff, R. E., & Mageo, J. (2019). Young Americans’ Dreaming in the Specular Age. Ethos, 47(2), 129-147. doi:10.1111/etho.12237

Sheriff, R. E. (2019). Mobile dreaming: oneiric subjectivities in the age of the smartphone. SUBJECTIVITY, 12(2), 137-153. doi:10.1057/s41286-019-00068-7

Sheriff, R. E. (2019). Degrees of mixture, degrees of freedom: genomics, multiculturalism, and race in Latin America.. JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE, 25(2), 415-416. doi:10.1111/1467-9655.13058

Sheriff, R. E. (2018). Race and the Brazilian Body: Blackness, Whiteness, and Everyday Language in Rio de Janeiro. ANTHROPOLOGICAL QUARTERLY, 91(2), 847-851. doi:10.1353/anq.2018.0041

Sheriff, R. E. (2017). Dreaming of the Kardashians: Media Content in the Dreams of US College Students. ETHOS, 45(4), 532-554. doi:10.1111/etho.12179

Sheriff, R. E. (2017). A Cat for All Senses: A Multispecies Autoethnography. Anthropology and Humanism, 42(1), 8-10. doi:10.1111/anhu.12161

Sheriff, R. E. (2016). Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America. JOURNAL OF LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES, 48(2), 431-433. doi:10.1017/S0022216X16000262

Sheriff, R. E. (2000). Exposing silence as cultural censorship: A Brazilian case. AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST, 102(1), 114-132. doi:10.1525/aa.2000.102.1.114

Sheriff, R. E. (1999). The theft of carnaval: National spectacle and racial politics in Rio de Janeiro. CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY, 14(1), 3-28. doi:10.1525/can.1999.14.1.3

Most Cited Publications