Gabriela Spears-Rico

Dr. Gabriela Spears-Rico is a cultural anthropologist and an Assistant Professor of Chicanx Latinx Studies with a joint appointment in American Indian Studies. A P’urhepecha/Matlatzinca scholar and poet, Spears-Rico’s BA is from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in Comparative Ethnic Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. She was awarded the U.C. MEXUS Fieldwork Grant, the Arnold Mitchem Fellowship by Marquette University, and a Visiting Scholar appointment with the Center for Anthropological Studies at El Colegio de Michoacan. Her work examines manifestations of consumption and cultural appropriation in touristic transactions between mestizos and indigenous people in Mexico. Her primary investment is in unraveling how the trauma of rape from the Spanish Conquest informs the mestiza/o desire to tour and inhabit indigenous communities. She is currently working on Mestiza/o Melancholia and the Legacy of Rape and Conquest in Michoacán, a book that explores how gendered violence has framed the racialization of indigenous people and the manufacturing of mestizaje in Mexico. Spears-Rico's scholarly work has been published in the American Indian Culture and Research Journal, the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, and in Latinx Talk. She has two forthcoming chapters, “Decolonial Maternalista Motherwork as Pedagogy,” in the Chicana Motherwork anthology and “In the Time of War and Hashtags: Rehumanizing Indigeneity in the Digital Landscape” in Indigenous Interfaces: Spaces, Social Networks and Indigenous Identities in Latin America, both to be released in 2019 by the University of Arizona Press. Dr. Spears-Rico is also a working artist and poet. The daughter of migrant farmworkers, her poetry reflects the working class and hybrid aesthetics of having grown up in migrant labor camps along the American West Coast. Her poetry has been published in numerous anthologies including Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas (University of Arizona Press, 2011) and Love Rise Up: Poems of Social Justice, Protest and Hope (Benu Press, 2012). In the Twin Cities, her work has been exhibited at Intermedia Arts, the Ordway Theater, and the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. Her work is prominently featured in the documentary film "Let: An Act of Reverse Incorporation" and in Molly McGlennen's book Creative Alliances: the Transnational Design of Indigenous Women's Poetry.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D: Comparative Ethnic Studies, University of California Berkeley , 2015.
  • M.A: Comparative Ethnic Studies, University of California Berkeley , 2006.
  • B.A: Political Science & Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Stanford University , 2003.
  • Certificate: Decolonial Knowledge and Power, PostColonial Studies, Decolonial Horizons, Center of Study and Investigation for Decolonial Dialogues, Barcelona, Spain, 2017.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Performance Studies
  • gendered violence
  • heritage tourism
  • mestizaje
  • decolonial feminism
  • Ethnography
  • Chicanx indigeniety
  • Latinx spirituality
Courses Taught
  • Transnational Chicanx Theory
  • Migrant Farm Workers in the United States
  • Chicano Representation in Film
  • Xicana Indigena Studies
  • Indigenous Feminisms of the Americas
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Native American and Indigenous Studies Association: 2014 - Present
  • National Association for Ethnic Studies: 2014 - Present
  • Society for Applied Anthropology: 2010 - Present
  • National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies: 2007 - Present
  • Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social : 2007 - Present
  • Co-Founder & Co-Chair, Chicana/o Culture Working Group, Townsend Center for the Humanities-University of California Berkeley : 2007 - 2009
  • Touring Poet & Coordinating Committee: Mujeres Poetas en el País de las Nubes : 2004 - 2008
  • Touring Poet: INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence; Sisterfire! National Cultural Arts Tour of Radical Women of Color , 2004
  • American Anthropological Association: 2016 - Present


  • MALCS at the University of Minnesota: 2017
  • Embracing Nepantla Amidst Midwestern Borderscapes in the Time of 45: Spears-Rico, Gabriela, Latinx Talk, Author.
  • Decolonial Maternalista Feminist Motherwork and Pedagogy: A Xicanista's Praxis: Spears-Rico, Gabriela, Michelle Telles, Cecilia Caballero, Yvette Martinez-Vu, Christine Vega, Judith C. Perez-Torres, University of Arizona Press, The Chicana Motherwork Anthology, 2019.
  • Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas: Spears-Rico, Gabriela, Allison Adele Hedge Coke, University of Arizona Press, Co-Author. Link
  • Tan Lejos de Dios: Poesia Mexicana en la Frontera Norte: Spears-Rico, Gabriela, Uberto Sabile, Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, Co-Author.
  • Love Rise Up: Poems of Social Justice, Protest, and Hope: Spears-Rico, Gabriela, Steve Fellner, Benu Press, Co-Author.
  • We Got Issues! A Young Woman’s Guide to Living a Bold, Courageous, and Empowered Life: Spears-Rico, Gabriela, JLove Caldeon, InnerOcean Publishing, Co-Author.
  • Mujeres Poetas en el Pais de las Nubes: Spears-Rico, Gabriela, Emilio Fuego, Centro de Estudios de la Cultura Mixteca, Co-Author.
  • "In the Time of War and Hashtags: Rehumanizing Indigeneity in the Digital Landscape". Spears-Rico, Gabriela, Gloria E. Chacon, Jennifer Menjivar Gomez, University of Arizona Press, Author, 2019.
  • Mellon Mays Pre-doctoral Research Development Grant
  • Arnold Mitchem Fellowship
  • Global Programs & Strategy Alliance, International Travel Award
  • Native American and Indigenous Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship, Northwestern University
  • University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States, Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
  • Gender Equity Grant, The Women's Center
  • Robert M. Golden Medal for Excellence in the Humanities and Creative Arts, Stanford University
  • Dean's Award for Service, Stanford University
  • Renato I. Rosaldo Jr. Award, Stanford University
  • Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Public Policy Fellowship
  • Distinguished Visitor Recognition, City of Oaxaca