Jennifer L Davis

Profile picture for Jennifer L Davis

Contact Information

1204 W. Nevada Street
Urbana, IL 61801
Assistant Professor


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); the intersections of gender and sexuality in language revitalization (Oxford Handbook of Language and Sexuality, forthcoming); 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


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

Courses Taught

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

Additional Campus Affiliations

Assistant Professor, American Indian Studies Program
Assistant Professor, Gender and Women's Studies

Highlighted Publications

Davis, J. L. (2018). Talking Indian: Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Zimman, L., Davis, J. L., & Raclaw, J. (Eds.) (2014). Queer Excursions: Retheorizing Binaries in Language, Gender, and Sexuality. (Studies in Language and Gender). Oxford University Press.

View all publications on Illinois Experts

Recent Publications

Clancy, K. B. H., & Davis, J. L. (2019). Soylent Is People, and WEIRD Is White: Biological Anthropology, Whiteness, and the Limits of the WEIRD. Annual Review of Anthropology, 48, 169-186.

Davis, J. L. (2018). Talking Indian: Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Davis, J. L. (2017). Resisting rhetorics of language endangerment: Reclamation through Indigenous language survivance. Language Documentation and Description, 14, 37-58.

Davis, J. L. (2016). Language affiliation and ethnolinguistic identity in Chickasaw language revitalization. Language and Communication, 47, 100-111.

Davis, J. L. (2015). Intersections of religion and language revitalization. In S. D. Brunn (Ed.), The Changing World Religion Map: Sacred Places, Identities, Practices and Politics (pp. 1091-1101). Springer Netherlands.

View all publications on Illinois Experts