Dr. Gabriela Spears-Rico is a cultural anthropologist and an Assistant Professor of Chicano Latino Studies with a joint appointment in American Indian Studies. A Pirinda- P’urhepecha scholar and poet, Dr. Spears-Rico’s BA is from Stanford University and her PhD in Comparative Ethnic Studies from U.C. Berkeley.

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. She authored “Decolonial P’urhepecha 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, both published in 2019 by the University of Arizona Press.

Dr. Spears-Rico is also a cultural worker and poet. Her poetry has been published in various anthologies including; Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas (University of Arizona Press, 2011), Love Rise Up: poems of social justice, protest, and hope (Benu Press, 2012) and will also be in the forthcoming Critical Latinx Indigeneities anthology. Locally, her creative work has been featured at Intermedia Arts, the Loft Literary Center, the Ordway Theater, and the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts.

Dr. Spears-Rico is the winner of numerous national awards, including the Mellon Mays Fellowship, the ALCS Fellowship in Native American and Indigenous Studies, and the Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship. At the University of Minnesota, she was awarded a residency with the Institute for Advanced Study 2021–22 and was named a McKnight Land-Grant Professor for the years 2021–23.

Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • PhD: Comparative Ethnic Studies, University of California Berkeley, 2015
  • MA: Comparative Ethnic Studies, University of California Berkeley, 2006
  • BA: 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, 2017


  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Performance Studies
  • Gendered violence
  • Heritage tourism
  • Mestizaje
  • Decolonial feminism
  • Ethnography
  • Chicanx indigeniety
  • Latinx spirituality