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Jenny L Davis

Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies, Anthropology, and Gender and Women's Studies

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Jenny L. Davis is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and hails from Oklahoma. Before joining the faculty at UIUC, she earned a PhD in Linguistics in 2013 from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She was the Henry Roe Cloud Fellow in American Indian Studies at  Yale University in 2011-2012 and the Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Kentucky in 2013-2014.

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • Indigenous Language and Identity; Language Revitalization & Documentation; Gender/Sexuality; Social Theory; Ethnographic and Research Methods

Research Description

  •     My research focuses on the intersections of community, identity, and language in contemporary indigenous social movements. Specifically, I utilize multi-sited ethnography, discourse analysis, and media studies to examine language revitalization and Two-Spirit movements within both tribal jurisdictions and urban Indian diaspora(s) in the United States and Canada.      I am particularly interested in language revitalization and documentation inindigenous communities and how processes of globalization affect thesemovements of linguistic reclamation in order to show that languagerevitalization efforts are inextricably tied to, and embedded in, semioticideologies, occupational and economic realities, and negotiations of diaspora. Her current research project is a multisite ethnographic investigationof the ways that--in the modern, urban American Indian diaspora--indigenouslanguage(s) are used in locations other than Native American reservations andtrust lands. This focused investigation of urban Native American language use combinestheorizations of diaspora and the study of indigenous languages in innovativeways, while also providing insight into the expression of contemporary AmericanIndian identity.


  • PhD Linguistics, University of Colorado 2013

Distinctions / Awards

  • 2014 Ruth Benedict Book Prize for Queer Excursions: Retheorizing Binaries in Language, Gender, and Sexuality
  • 2013-2014 Lymon T. Johson Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Kentucky.
  • 2011-2012 Henry Roe Cloud Dissertation Writing Fellowship in American Indian Studies, Yale University.


  • AIS 101: Intro to American Indian Studies
  • AIS 285: Indigenous Thinkers
  • AIS/ANTH 165: Lang & Culture in Native N. America
  • ANTH 372: Social Media & Digital Communication
  • ANTH 471: Ethnography through Language



  • Publication Photo
    Queer Excursions: Retheorizing Binaries in Language, Gender, and Sexualiy. . Ed. Lal Davis, Jenny L. Davis, and Joshua Raclaw. Oxford University Press, 2014.

Book Contributions

  • Davis, Jenny L. "Intersections of Religion and Language Revitalization." The Changing World Religion Map. . Ed. Stanley Brunn. Springer, 2015. 1091-1101.

  • Davis, Jenny L., Lal Zimman, and Joshua Raclaw. "Opposites attract: Retheorizing binaries in language, gender, and sexuality." Queer Excursions: Retheorizing Binaries in Language, Gender, and Sexualiy. . Oxford University Press, 2014. 1-12.

  • Davis, Jenny. "More than just ‘gay Indians’: Intersecting articulations of Two-Spirit gender, sexuality, and indigenousness." Queer Excursions: Retheorizing Binaries in Language, Gender, and Sexualiy. . Oxford University Press, 2014. 62-80.

Journal Articles