Joel Robbins received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia and has been at UCSD since 1998. Trained in symbolic, semiotic and structural anthropology, Robbins has carried out research focused on Christianity and cultural change among the Urapmin of Papua New Guinea. Building on this background, for the last several years Robbins has been conducting research on the social and cultural processes that have shaped the rapid globalization of Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity. Alongside of and in dialogue with these two projects, he has also helped to lay the theoretical groundwork for the developing field of the anthropology of Christianity and has been working to advance our theoretical understanding of cultural change, and particularly of processes of radical cultural change that have rarely been adequately theorized within anthropology. Throughout all of his work, Robbins has continued to be interested in issues of semiotics, language, value and exchange and both his theoretical work on Christianity and on cultural change and his empirical work draw on and aim to contribute to anthropological research on these topics as well.
In 2007 Robbins was the recipient of a UCSD Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award.
Robbins is currently co-editor of the journal Anthropological Theory and editor of the University of California Press book series "The Anthropology of Christianity."