Erin Debenport

Prof. Erin Debenport

Erin Debenport

Associate Professor & Vice Chair of Graduate Studies

Office: 318B Haines Hall


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Curriculum Vitae

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I am a linguistic and sociocultural anthropologist, interested in technologies of language circulation, secrecy and (in)visibility, indigeneity and sovereignty, and critical language documentation. My work is concentrated in the Pueblo Southwest and the Mexico-Texas-New Mexico border region. My book, Fixing the Books: Secrecy, Literacy, and Perfectibility in Indigenous New Mexico (SAR, 2015), ethnographically explores the creation and control of written texts in a Pueblo community. My new project, based in an indigenous community in El Paso, Texas, looks at the inverse: how language is used to render political groups visible and viable. Since 2003, I have contributed to language documentation and revitalization programs in Kiowa-Tanoan speaking communities, collaborating with community members on creating archives and pedagogical materials. My work has appeared in journals that include: Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Language & Communication, International journal of the Sociology of Language, and American Indian Culture and Research Journal.


Debenport, Erin. 2016 (in press).  “Perfecting Publics: Future Audiences and the Aesthetics of Refinement.” Future Indigenous Publics, Current Linguistic Anthropological Engagements, edited by Paul V. Kroskrity, Barbra A. Meek, and M. Eleanor Nevins, Routledge.

Debenport, Erin. 2015. Fixing the Books: Secrecy, Literacy, and Perfectibility in Indigenous New Mexico. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press.

Debenport, Erin. 2012. “Continuous Perfectibility: Pueblo Propriety and the Consequences of Literacy.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 22(3): 201-219.

Debenport, Erin. 2011. “As the Rez Turns: Anomalies Within and Beyond the Boundaries of a Pueblo Community.” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 35(2): 87- 109.

Debenport, Erin. 2010. “Comparative Accounts of Linguistic Fieldwork as Ethical Exercises.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 206: 227–244.

Debenport, Erin. 2010. “The Potential Complexity of ‘Universal Ownership’: Cultural Property, Textual Circulation, and Linguistic Fieldwork.” Language & Communication 30(3): 204- 210.

Awards & Grants

Nominee, Outstanding Teaching of the Year, University of New Mexico, 2015.

Nominee, UNM New Faculty Teaching Award, 2010-2011. University of New Mexico.

Earl S. and Esther Johnson Prize for Outstanding M.A. Thesis in the Social Sciences, 1998-1999, University of Chicago Masters of Arts Program in the Social Sciences.


Ph.D., Linguistics, University of Chicago (2009)