Gabriela Spears-Rico

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 Ph.D. 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 2021-2022 and was named a McKnight Land-Grant Professor for the years 2021-2023.

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.


  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Performance Studies
  • gendered violence
  • heritage tourism
  • mestizaje
  • decolonial feminism
  • Ethnography
  • Chicanx indigeniety
  • Latinx spirituality
Courses Taught
  • CHIC 3352: Transborder Theory
  • CHIC 3374: Migrant Farm Workers in the United States
  • CHIC 3223: Chicano Representation in Film
  • CHIC 3452: Chicanx Latinx Indigeneity
  • AMIN/CHIC 5212: Comparative Indigenous Feminisms of the Americas (Graduate Seminar)
  • AMIN 1002/POL 1019: Indigenous People in Global Perspective
  • CHIC 1912: Performing Latina/o/x Identities; Media, Art and Popular Culture (Freshman Seminar)
  • AMIN 3201W: American Indian Literature
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Coordinator, Abiayala Latin America Working Group: Native American and Indigenous Studies , 2020 - 2021
  • Chair, Women's Indigenous and Native Caucus: MALCS - Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social , 2019 - 2021
  • Affiliate: Race, Indigeneity, Gender and Sexuality Studies, UMNTC , 2016 - 2021
  • 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
  • American Anthropological Association: 2016 - Present


  • MALCS at the University of Minnesota: 2017 - 2019


  • Featured Poet at Presente! 50 Years of Chicano and Latino Studies: Chicano and Latino Studies Department, CLUES Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio, Saint Paul, MN, 2021
  • Featured Poet (Single Feature), “The Last Supper of Chicano Heroes” Mural Restoration Unveiling: Casa Zapata, Stern Hall, Stanford University, 2020
  • Featured Poet, Indigenous Writers and their Critics: An International Symposium: University of California at San Diego, 2020
  • Featured Poet (Single Feature), Flor y Canto, Stanford Latino Alumni Association Summit: Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center, Stanford University, 2019
  • Featured Poet, Visualizarte Exhibit Opening Reception: CLUES - Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio, St Paul, MN, 2019
  • “In Memoriam: Remember Her” : Poetry performance video installation at Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center, 2017
  • “Decolonized Wall Text on a Maya Chocolate Pot” : Poem exhibition at “Let: An Act of Reverse Incorporation” at Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, 2016 - 2017
  • Featured Poet/Author, As Curated by Latinx Writers: The Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis, MN, 2016
  • Featured Poet (Single Feature), Pre-Show Artist Talk for Paint Your Wagon: Ordway Theater, St Paul, MN, 2016
  • “How the Vulture Lost Its Feathers": Poem exhibition in “Dimensions of the Indigenous: Storytelling” at Intermedia Arts,, 2015
  • Featured Poet, Yosimar Reyes’s For Colored Boys Who Speak Softly Book Release Party: MACLA- Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, San Jose, CA, 2009
  • Featured Poet, Indigenous People’s Night of Resistance Concert: Heller Lounge, Martin Luther King Student Jr. Union, University of California Berkeley , 2009
  • Featured Poet, “Decolonizing Creativity: Fiery Women, Fierce Expressions,” 23rd Annual Empowering Women of Color Conference : Multicultural Center, Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, 2008
  • Featured Poet, International Women’s Day Celebration featuring Lorna Dee Cervantes, Las Manas Tres, Aya de Leon and Gabriela Rico: Heller Lounge, Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, University of California Berkeley, 2008
  • Featured Poet/First Place Winner, Malinalli Press Presents: Xochiquetzalli Award Winners: Galeria de la Raza, San Francisco, CA, 2008
  • Featured Poet, Native American Women’s Poetry: Healing from Displacement, Curated by Allison Hedge Coke: DeYoung Museum, San Francisco, CA, 2007
  • Featured Poet, Recital Anual de Mujeres Poetas en el País de las Nubes: Palace of Fine Arts, Mexico City (2005, 2006, 2007),
  • Featured Poet, Encuentro Anual de Mujeres Poetas en el País de las Nubes: Poetry Tour, Oaxaca, MX, 2005 - 2007
  • Featured Poet (Single Feature), The Delivery Room Spoken Word: MACLA - Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, San Jose, CA, 2005
  • Featured Poet, “Sisterfire! Cultural Arts Tour for Radical Women of Color" : Tour stops in Chicago, Albuquerque, Rapid City, and San Francisco, 2004
  • “G.I. Jose” (Play), Playwright and Consultant: Directed for the stage by Cherrie Moraga, The Piggot Theater at Stanford University, 2003
  • “A Room of My Own: Portrait of Migrant Girlhood”: Original Installation in Institute for Diversity in the Arts Exhibit, Curated by James Luna at Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University, 2003
  • Spears-Rico, Gabriela “‘End White Supremacy:’ From Black Lives Matter to the Toppling of the Columbus Statue – a testimonio from San Pablo.” Sparked: George Floyd, Racism, and the Progressive Illusion. Eds. Walter R. Jacobs, Wendy Thompson Taiwo and Amy August. Minneapolis: Minnesota Historical Society Press (2021)
  • Spears-Rico, Gabriela. “Replanting you as Winyan, Uhariti, Kwe: Transnational Indigena Mothering from Michoacán to Mni Sota Makoce”. Transnational Chicanx Perspectives on Ana Castillo, edited by Karen Robyal and Bernardine Hernandez. Pittsburg: University of Pittsburg Press (2021)
  • Spears-Rico, Gabriela. “In the Time of War and Hashtags: Rehumanizing Indigeneity in the Digital Landscape.” Indigenous Interfaces: Spaces, Social Networks and Indigenous Identities in Latin America. Jennifer Gomez Menjivar and Gloria Elizabeth Chacon, ed. Tucson: University of Arizona Press (2019).
  • Spears-Rico, Gabriela. “Decolonial P’urhepecha Maternalista Feminist Motherwork and Pedagogy.” The Chicana M(other)work Anthology: Porque Sin Madres No Hay Revolucion. Yvette Martinez-Vu, Judith C. Perez-Torres, Michelle Telles, Christine Vega, and Cecilia Caballero, ed. Tucson: University of Arizona Press (2019)
  • Spears-Rico, Gabriela. “Review of the Book Indigenous Tourism Movements by Alexis Bunten and Nelson H.H. Graburn.” American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 43.1 (2019)
  • Spears-Rico, Gabriela. “In gratitude of all Yalitza gives us within the limits of Roma,” NDN Collective Stories, February 10, 2019
  • Spears-Rico, Gabriela. “Azthetix: Image of Indigenous Manly Perfection” in Agenda 33.3, 76-77. (2019)
  • Spears-Rico, Gabriela. “Indigenous Spirit” in Love Rise Up! Ed. Steve Fellner. Hopkins: Benu Press (2012)
  • Rico, Gabriela. Various Poems in Turtle Island to Abya Ayala: Art and Poetry by Native American and Latina Women. Ed. Micaela Valdez . San Francisco: Malinalli Press (2011)
  • Rico, Gabriela. Various Poems in Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas. Ed. Allison Hedge Coke. Tucson: University of Arizona Press (2011)
  • Rico, Gabriela. Various Poems in Tan Lejos de Dios, poesia mexicana en la frontera norte. Ed. Uberto Sabile. Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (2010)
  • Rico, Gabriela. Various Poems in Luces y Sombras. Ed. Carmen Avila. Spain: Fundacion Maria del Villar (2008)
  • Rico, Gabriela. Various Poems in Mujeres Poetas en el Pais de las Nubes. Ed. Emilio Fuego. Mexico: Centro de Estudios de la Cultura Mixteca (2008)
  • Rico, Gabriela. Various Poems in Semillas de Achiote: An Anthology of Four Latina Poets. Ed. Jennifer Reimer. Berkeley: Achiote Press (2008)
  • Rico, Gabriela. Various Poems in Ahani: Indigenous American Poetry. Ed. Allison Adelle Hedge Coke. Corvallis: To Topos Poetry International, Vol. 9 (2006)
  • Spears-Rico, Gabriela. “Review of the book Native Performers in Wild West Shows by Linda Scarangella McNenly." American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 38.1 (2014): 229
  • Spears-Rico, Gabriela. “Review of the book Weaving Strength Weaving Power: Violence and Abuse against Indigenous Women by Venida S. Chenault." American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 37.1 (2013): 214
  • Spears-Rico, Gabriela. “Review of the book Native Nations and U.S. Borders: Challenges to Indigenous Culture, Citizenship, and Security by Rachel Rose Starks, et al." American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 36.4 (2012): 179
  • Rico, Gabriela. “Review of the book Viva la Raza: A History of Chicano Identity and Resistance by Yolanda Alaniz and Meghan Cornish.” Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, 21 (2009): 77-76.
  • Residential Fellowship, Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota, 2022
  • McKnight Land-Grant Professorship, University of Minnesota, 2021 - 2023
  • Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, 2019 - 2020
  • International Travel Award, Global Programs & Strategy Alliance, UMNTC, 2017
  • Gender Equity Grant, The Women's Center, UMNTC, 2017
  • ACLS Native American and Indigenous Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship, Northwestern University, 2016
  • Ethnic Studies Block Grant, U.C. Berkeley , 2014
  • Mellon Mays Predoctoral Research Development Grant, Social Science Research Council, 2011
  • Arnold Mitchem Dissertation Fellowship, Marquette University, 2010 - 2011
  • Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States, 2009 - 2010
  • Graduate Research Grant, Center for Race and Gender, U.C. Berkeley , 2009
  • Graduate Student Scholarship, Hispanic Scholarship Fund , 2007
  • Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, University of California Berkeley , 2004 - 2006
  • William and Helen S. Halstead Recruitment Grant, U.C. Berkeley , 2004
  • Public Policy Fellowship, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, 2003 - 2004
  • Robert M. Golden Medal for Excellence in the Humanities and Creative Arts, Stanford University, 2003