Regina Harrison's scholarship combines the disciplines of anthropology and literature, as reflected in her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her book Signs, Songs, and Memory in the Andes: Translating Quechua Language and Culture (University of Texas, 1989) received the first Katherine Singer Kovacs Book Prize from the Modern Language Association in 1991, and was also awarded prizes from the Latin American Studies Association and the New England Council of Latin American Studies. A Professor in Spanish and Comparative Literature and affiliate Professor in Anthropology, Harrison teaches Quechua, the language spoken by the Incas, as well as Latin American cultures and literatures. Her third book, Entre el tronar pico y el llanto elegaco (Quito, Ecuador; 1997), analyzes the use of the Indian symbol in poetry as Ecuador "negotiates nation" in the 19th and 20th centuries. Her first video, Cashing in on Culture: Indigenous Communities and Tourism (2002), is a collaboration with indigenous Ecuadorians who comment on tourism, the economic benefits, and the downside of cultural assimilation. Mined to Death--a DVD she filmed and produced with Quechua-speaking miners from Potos, Bolivia-- was awarded the Latin American Studies Association Award of Merit in Film in 2007.
With fellowship funding from the Guggenheim Foundation (1999-2000), Harrison analyzes confession manuals and sermons written in Spanish and Quechua to determine "semantic conversions." In 2004-05 she researched Quichua indigenous communities reaction to the dollarization of Ecuadorian currency, funded by a Fulbright grant. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and later lived with indigenous communities in the tropical forest and the Andes. Her research has been sponsored by S.S.R.C., A.C.L.S., Rockefeller, Fulbright, N.E.H., and the Mellon Foundation. She is also a Visiting Faculty member at the Universidad Andina Simon Bolvar (Quito, Ecuador) and in the Centro de Estudios Regionalistas Andinos Bartolom de Las Casas (Cusco, Peru).