Patricia O. Covarrubias, University of New Mexico

The following is a synopsis of an interview (conducted by Todd Sandel) with Saila in June, 2012, while attending the “Ethnography of Communication: Ways Forward” Conference, in Omaha, Nebraska at Creighton University. To listen to the audio of this interview click the play button below.


  • Can you tell me a little about yourself? Where did you study, and what is your current position?

I got my PhD from the University of Washington in 1999. I went to UW to study under Gerry Philipsen. Prior to my studies there I worked in private industry. Currently I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication * Journalism at the University of New Mexico. My teaching areas include intercultural communication, cultural communication, and qualitative research methods as influenced by the Ethnography of Communication.


  • What piece was inspirational to you as an LSI scholar and researcher?

It was Philipsen’s “Speaking like a Man in Teamsterville.” I read it prior to my doctoral studies, while working as a consultant in communication and facing problems related to culture and communication. At that time another person recommended that I read this piece and study under Philipsen. As a Native Mexican, I felt that if I had known these things earlier, as an immigrant, it would have made that journey easier.


  • What questions you are currently exploring?

I have been studying, particularly Native American silence, and studied it as a creative process, the positive aspects of silence. I would like to continue to work in that vein, to see silence as a means of resistance, particularly in mind of the work of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta and the marches they were involved with. I have spoken with Chavez who is one of the co-founders of the United Farmworkers Union. Silence was a form of resistance and prayer and very important to the founding of the UFW.


  • What do you see are ways forward for you personally, or LSI scholarship in general?

We should be looking at different channels of communication. In the past our focus has been on spoken forms; for the future we should look at others, such as silence, dance, food, and space from an ethnographic perspective. Furthermore, the internet has given us a new way of perception. I am personally interested in food and sound and dance as ethnographic expressions.