Jenny L. Davis

Indigenous Anthropologist, Activist, Sleep Enthusiast, Nerd


Broadly speaking, my research sits at the intersections of language and contemporary Indigenous life with three over-arching areas of research: the sociocultural dynamics of language endangerment and revitalization; and Indigenous gender, sexuality, and relationality in North America; and Indigenous and collaborative research methods and ethics . In the first two of these areas, I am interested in the negotiation of personal identity within and against broader social movements, frictions, and refusals and the role of social media and digital domains in those negotiations. Specifically, I utilize multi-sited ethnography, discourse analysis, and archival/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 within the humanities, primarily 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.

2021   “Famous Last Speakers:  Celebrity and Erasure in Media Coverage of Language Endangerment.” In Adese, Jennifer and Innes, Rob (Eds). Indigenous Celebrity. University of Manitoba Press.

2020    “Good Neighbors and Supportive Grandfathers: Contextualizing non-heritage learners of Chickasaw.” American Anthropologist. Vol. 122, Issue 1.

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.

Language, 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.

2021   Hall, Kira and Davis, Jenny L. “Ethnography and the Shifting Semiotics of Gender and Sexuality: Practice, Ideology, Theory”. In Baxter, Judith and Jo Angouri, Jo (Eds). The Routledge Handbook of Language, Gender and Sexuality. Routledge.

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 Sexuality.

Indigenous, collaborative, and decolonial methods and ethics, repatriation, and reciprocity

2022     Davis, Jenny L. and Krupa, Krystiana. “Toward a language of possibility in curation and consultation practices.Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals. Focus issue on Indigenous Collections: Belongings, Decolonization, & Contextualization.

2021    Davis, Jenny L. and Smalls, Krystal. “Dis/possession Afoot: American (Anthropological)            Traditions of Anti-Blackness and Coloniality.Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. Special forum on Language and White Supremacy. Vol. 31 (2).

2019     Clancy, Kathryn and Davis, Jenny L. “Soylent is People, and WEIRD is White: Biological anthropology, whiteness, and the limits of the WEIRD.”  Annual Review of Anthropology. 48: 169-86


%d bloggers like this: