Dr. Gabriela Spears-Rico
The formerly-undocumented daughter of a single campesina, Dr. Gabriela Spears-Rico grew up along the American West Coast learning to call migrant labor camps and trailer parks home. She is a graduate of Stanford University and received her Ph.D. in Comparative Ethnic Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. An Assistant Professor of Chicanx and Latinx Studies and of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Spears-Rico’s research is primarily invested in understanding how representations of indigeneity in Mexican popular culture and Chicanx cultural production inform understandings of race and ethnicity among people of Mexican heritage. She completed her fieldwork on the mestiza/o consumption of Purepecha cultural and spiritual performances as a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Anthropological Studies in El Colegio de Michoacan. Dr. Spears-Rico is currently working on her first book, Mestizo Melancholia and the Legacy of Rape and Conquest in Mexico. This work engages performance theory, critical race theory and feminist theory to examine how ‘going native’ functions in Mexico and how the dynamics of cultural appropriation inform the production of mestizaje and indigeneity among Mexican@s and Chicanxs.
Dr. Spears-Rico is also an accomplished cultural worker and poet. Her anti-war play “G.I. Jose” was directed for the stage at Stanford’s Piggot Theater. Spears-Rico toured the U.S. as a performer with INCITE’s Sisterfire! Cultural Arts Tour for Radical Women of Color; she toured Mexico with Mujeres Poetas en el Pais de las Nubes and has been a featured poet at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City numerous times. Her poetry has been published in various anthologies including; Poesia mexicana en la frontera norte, Sing: poetry from the Indigenous Americas, and Love Rise Up: poems of social justice, protest, and hope. Dr. Spears-Rico was the first-place winner of the Xochiquetzalli Award for Native/Chicana Women’s Poetry in 2008. In the Twin Cities, her poetry has been exhibited at Intermedia Arts, the Ordway Theater, the Loft Literary Center, and the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. Most recently, her creative work was featured in the documentary, “Let: an Act of Reverse Incorporation,” produced by Andrea Carlson and the MIA.
When she’s not teaching, researching or writing, Dr. Spears-Rico enjoys exploring Minnesota’s lakes with her partner and two-year old daughter, cooking her mother’s Mexican food recipes, watching documentary crime shows, encouraging her daughter’s interest in pow wows as a tiny tot jingle dress dancer, and walking her shih tzhu (Britney Spears). She also enjoys volunteering for events in the Twin Cities American Indian community with her family and dancing cumbias and corridos.