Skip to main content

Patricia Covarrubias

Photo: Patricia Covarrubias

Associate Professor



Patricia Covarrubias, a native of Mexico, is Associate Professor at the University of New Mexico where she holds joint appointments in the Departments of Communication and Journalism and Chicana and Chicano Studies. She earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees from California State University, Sacramento specializing in French language and literature. Besides English (not her native tongue), she speaks Spanish, French, some Italian, and has studied Japanese. She lived in Europe for 18 months and spent one year as instructor at the Lycée Bellevue in Albi, France teaching English to high school girls. Upon her return to the United States, she worked for several years as an on-air news reporter for KCRA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Sacramento, California. Her broadcast reports broached a wide range of topics including: politics, medicine, crime, education, and human interest. For ten years she owned and operated OCELOTL, a consultant business in Stockton, California specializing in communication skills for individual and corporate clients. Her consulting practice included studying Japanese so that she could better work with Japanese businessmen from Nippon Steel Corporation. She earned a doctorate degree at the University of Washington specializing in cultural and intercultural communication as well as qualitative research methods, in particular, the ethnography of communication. 

Teaching: At UNM since 2005, she has taught at undergraduate and graduate levels in: cultural and intercultural communication/comunicación intercultural; qualitative research methods; cultural metaphors and other word symbols; language, thought, and behavior; and communication theory.

Research: Her research has been dedicated to understanding and describing how indigenous culture influences peoples’ ways of communicating and vice versa, and on describing how culturally grounded communicative practices reflect and create a unique life for groups of people. Ultimately, she is interested in studying the influence of cultural imperatives within the activities and events of everyday life across a variety of contexts. Research goals include contributing to: cultural and intercultural communication; language in social interaction; Chicano@/Mexican@/Latin@ communication, the much understudied activity of generative communicative silence, and ethnographic approaches.


Selected Publications


Covarrubias, P. (2002) Culture, communication, and cooperation: Interpersonal relations and pronominal address in a Mexican organization, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Boulder, CO. (Soft cover edition 2005).

Hall, B. J., Covarrubias, P., & Kirschbaum, K. (2018). Among cultures: The challenge of communication. 3rd edition. London: Routledge.

Articles in refereed journals:

Covarrubias, P., & Windchief, S. (2009) Silences in Stewardship: Some American Indian College Students Examples.  TheHoward Journal of Communications, 20, 4, 1-20.

Covarrubias, P. (2008). Masked Silence Sequences: Hearing Discrimination in the College Classroom. Communication, Culture & Critique, 1, 3, 227-252.  

Covarrubias, P. (2007). (Un)biased in Western theory: Generative silence in American Indian communication. Communication Monographs, 74, 2, 265-271.


Philipsen, G., Aoki, E., Castor, T., Coutu, L., Covarrubias, P., Jabs, L., Kane, M., & Winchatz, M. (1997). Reading Ella Cara Deloria’s Waterlily for cultured speech. Iowa Journal ofCommunication, 29, 31-49.


Articles appearing as chapters in edited volumes:

Covarrubias, P. (2017). Respeto [respect] in disrespect: Clashing cultural themes within the context of immigration. In D. Carbaugh (Ed.) The Handbook of Communication in Cross-cultural Perspective. International Communication Association Series. (pp. 208-221). London, Routledge.


Covarrubias, P. (2017). Communication modes: Mexican. In Kim, Young Yun (Ed.) International Encyclopedia of Intercultural Communication. Wiley-Blackwell.

Covarrubias, P. O. (2015). Ethnographic research. In Janet M. Bennett (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Intercultural Competence, 1, 312-315. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Covarrubias, P.O. (2015). Silence. In Tracy, Karen (Ed.) International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction. New Jersey, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. 


Covarrubias, P.O. (2015). Pronoun functions. In Tracy, Karen (Ed.) International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction. New Jersey, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. 


Covarrubias Baillet, P.O. (2009). The Ethnography of Communication. In Littlejohn, S. and K. Foss (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Communication Theory (pp. 355-360). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.


Covarrubias Baillet, P.O. (2009). Speech Codes Theory. In Littlejohn, S. and K. Foss (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Communication Theory (pp. 918-924). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.


Covarrubias, P. (2005). Homemade talk: Language, identity, and other Mexican legacies for a son’s intercultural competence. In Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz (Ed.), From generation to generation: Maintaining cultural identity over time (pp. 29-47). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.   


Philipsen, G., Coutu, L. M., & Covarrubias, P. (2005). Speech Codes Theory: Revision, Restatement, and Response to Criticisms. In William Gudykunst (Ed.), Theorizing about communication and culture. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.


Covarrubias, P. (2000). Of endearment and other terms of address: A Mexican perspective. In M. W. Lustig and J. Koester (Eds.), AmongUS:  Essays on identity, belonging, and intercultural competence.  New York: Longman.