Jenny L. Davis

Chancellor's Fellow, Assistant Professor

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Indigenous Language and Identity; Language Revitalization & Documentation; Gender/Sexuality; Ethnographic and Research Methods; Native American and Indigenous Studies

Personal profile

Jenny L. Davis is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where she is the director of the Native American and Indigenous Languages (NAIL) Lab and an affiliate faculty of American Indian Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies. She is the 2019-2021 Chancellor's Fellow of Indigenous Research & Ethics, and serves as the UIUC campus NAGPRA officer.

She earned her PhD in Linguistics at University of Colorado, Boulder in 2013. She was the 2010-2011 Henry Roe Cloud Fellow in American Indian Studies at Yale University, and a 2013-2014 Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellow in Linguistics at the University of Kentucky. Her research focuses on contemporary Indigenous language(s) and identity, with dual focuses on Indigenous language revitalization and Indigenous gender and sexuality. 

Her 2018 book from the University of Arizona Press, Talking Indian: Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance received the 2019 Beatrice Medicine Award for Best Monograph inAmerican Indian Studies. It and additional publications focus on Chickasaw language revitalization (Language and Communication, 2016 and The Changing World Religion Map, 2015). In addition,  she has published in a number of topics and fields, including gendered representations in Breton language revitalization media (Gender & Language, 2012); the discourses about language endangerment in media (Language Documentation & Description, 2017); and language, Indigeneity, and gender/sexuality in Two Spirit identity (Queer Excursions, 2014). Her 2014 co-edited volume from Oxford University Press, Queer Excursions: Retheorizing Binaries in Language, Gender, and Sexuality, was awarded the Ruth Benedict Book Prize from the Association for Queer Anthropology and the American Anthropological Association.

Research Interests

Indigenous Language and Identity; Language Revitalization & Documentation; Gender/Sexuality; Ethnographic and Research Methods; Native American and Indigenous Studies; NAGPRA and Repatriation


PhD Linguistics, University of Colorado 2013
MA Linguistics, University of Colorado 2007
BA English, Oklahoma State University 2005
BA Spanish, Oklahoma State University 2005


AIS 101: Intro to American Indian Studies
AIS 285: Indigenous Thinkers
ANTH 165: Lang & Culture in Native N. America
ANTH 270: Language in Culture
ANTH 372: Social Media & Digital Communication
ANTH 374: Anthropology of Science & Technology
ANTH 471: Ethnography through Language
ANTH 499: NAGPRA & Ethics
ANTH 515: NAGPRA & Repatriation in US Context
ANTH 515: Queer Anthropology

Office Address

607 S. Matthews Ave, M/C 148
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, Illinois 61801

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language Social Sciences
sexuality Social Sciences
gender Social Sciences
endangerment Social Sciences
community Social Sciences
Renaissance Social Sciences
grouping Social Sciences
stereotype Social Sciences

Research Output 2007 2019

ethnic group
social reality

Queer Excursions: Retheorizing Binaries in Language, Gender, and Sexuality

Zimman, L. (ed.), Davis, J. L. (ed.) & Raclaw, J. (ed.), 2014, Oxford University Press. 256 p. (Studies in Language and Gender)

Research output: Book/ReportBook

community research
cultural anthropology
social scientist

Activities 2015 2017

  • 4 Invited talk

Honors & Recognition

American Indians
American Literature
Native American Literature

Ruth Benedict Prize

Lal Zimman (Recipient), Jennifer L Davis (Recipient) & Joshua Raclaw (Recipient), 2014


queer theory