Jenny L. Davis

Indigenous Anthropologist, Activist, Sleep Enthusiast, Nerd



Broadly speaking, my research sits at the intersections of language and contemporary Indigenous life with two over-arching areas of research: the sociocultural dynamics of language endangerment and revitalization and Indigenous gender, and sexuality in North America. In both of these areas, I am interested in the negotiation of personal identity within and against broader social movements and the role of social media and digital domains in those negotiations. 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.My research draws on the theories and methodologies in Anthropology, Linguistics, Native American and Indigenous Studies, and Queer Studies.

Language Revitalization & Reclamation:
I am particularly interested in language revitalization and documentation in Indigenous communities and how processes of globalization affect the movements of linguistic reclamation in order to show that language revitalization efforts are inextricably tied to, and embedded in, semiotic ideologies, occupational and economic realities, and negotiations of diaspora.

As with any social or political movement, language revitalization is inherently embedded within the contexts of the communities in which such movements occur. These contexts include everything from the day-to-day lived experiences of community members, to overarching governmental systems and policies at all levels.

My current research project is a multi-sited ethnographic investigation of the ways that–in the modern, urban American Indian diaspora–indigenous language(s) are used in locations other than Native American reservations and trust lands. This focused investigation of urban Native American language use combines theorizations of diaspora and the study of indigenous languages in innovative ways, while also providing insight into the expression of contemporary American Indian identity.

2018         Talking Indian: Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance. University of Arizona Press.

2017           “Resisting Rhetorics of Language Endangerment: Reclamation Through Indigenous Language SurvivanceLanguage Documentation and Description. Vol 14

2016                “Language Affiliation and Ethnolinguistic Identity in Chickasaw Language Revitalization.Language & Communication. 47: 100-111

2015                 “Intersections of Religion and Language Revitalization.” In Stanley Brunn (Ed.), The Changing World Religion Map. Springer.

2012                 Adkins, Madeleine and Jenny Davis. The naïf, the sophisticate, and the party girl: Regional and gender stereotypes in Breton language web videos. Gender and Language. Vol. 6, Issue 2.

Indigenous Gender & Sexuality:
Within the field of language, gender, and sexuality, my research is particularly focused on the semiotic negotiation of the multiply marginalizations of Queer/Two-Spirit Native American people  and the intersections of gender and sexuality in language revitalization efforts such.

2019                “Refusing (Mis)Recognition: Navigating Multiple Marginalization in the U.S. Two Spirit Movement.Review of International American Studies (RIAS). Vol. 12:1, Spring–Summer.

2014                Davis, Jenny, Lal Zimman, and Joshua Raclaw. Opposites attract: Retheorizing binaries in language, gender, and sexuality. In Lal Zimman, Jenny L. Davis,
and Joshua Raclaw (Eds.), Queer Excursions: Retheorizing Binaries in Language,
Gender, and Sexuality
. Oxford  University Press.

2014               “More than just ‘gay Indians’: Intersecting articulations of Two-Spirit gender, sexuality and indigenousness.” In Lal Zimman, Jenny Davis, and Joshua
Raclaw  (Eds.), Queer Excursions: Retheorizing Binaries in Language, Gender, and


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