Anna Rios-Rojas - Assistant Professor of Educational Studies

Colgate Directory

Anna Ríos-Rojas

Anne Ríos-Rojas

Educational Studies, 13 Persson Hall
p 315-228-7250
Anna Ríos-Rojas grew up in the diasporic space located in between San Francisco, California and Costa Rica. As an anthropologist of education, her ethnographic research takes up questions related to the (bio)politics of belonging, citizenship, and nationalisms as these are encountered and negotiated by transnational youth in Spain, Costa Rica and beyond. Her work has appeared in Harvard Educational Review and Anthropology & Education Quarterly.

As a scholar and educator, Anna's ethnographic sensibilities have been attuned to the ways that allegiances to Empire and nationhood structure the lived worlds of im/migrant youth. Understanding the power of resistance and movement that can emerge in even the tightest of spaces, her work is also always attentive to the important critiques of empire offered up by youth and how these counter-narrative might help to revise normative notions of belonging and citizenship being reproduced in schools and society.

She is currently working on a new ethnographic study with Nicaraguan youth in Costa Rica that explores the creative ways that immigrant youth navigate questions of conditional belonging and the politics of nation in the Costa Rican imaginary. Anna's other scholarly projects engage with Women of Color/Latina feminist epistemologies/pedagogies and the role of artistic activism within education.


  • PhD, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2011
  • MA, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2000
  • BA, University of California, Davis, 1996

Research Interests

The politics of belonging, citizenship, and nationhood; critical im/migrant youth studies; woman of color/latin@/decolonial feminist epistemologies/pedagogies; anthropologies of education.


Refereed Journal Articles

  • Gibson, M. A., & Ríos-Rojas, A. (2006) Globalization, Immigration, and the Education of New” Immigrants in the 21st Century. Current Issues in Comparative Education 9(1): 69-75.

  • Ríos-Rojas, A. (2011) Beyond Delinquent Citizenships: Youth’s (Re)Visions of Citizenship in a Globalized World. Harvard Educational Review 81(1): 64-94.

  • Ríos-Rojas, A. (2014). Conditional Belonging: Negotiating the Politics of Belonging and “Diversity” Catalonian Institut. Anthropology and Education Quarterly 45 (1): 2-21.

Book Chapters

  • Gibson, M. A., Carrasco, S., Pàmies, J., Ponferrada, M., & Ríos-Rojas, A. (2013).“Different Systems, Similar Results: Immigrant Youth at School in California and Catalonia.” In Richard Alba & Jennifer Holdaway (Eds.), The Children of Immigrants at School: A Comparative Look at Integration in the United States and Western Europe, NYU Press.

  • Ríos-Rojas, A. (2014). “The Diaspora Speaks Back: Youth of Migration Speaking Back to Discourses of Power and Empire.” In Gilberto Conchas, Michael Gottfried, & Briana Hinga (Eds.), Inequality, Power, and School Success: Case Studies on Racial Disparity and Opportunity in Education. New York, Routledge Press.

  • Ríos-Rojas, A. (in press) “Mas Allá de la Pertencia Condiciónal: Jovenes Inmigrantes Navegando en Fronteras de la (No)Pertenencia en España.” In An Bravo-Moreno (Ed.), “Racialization, Etnicazión, Género y Clase en las Escuelas: Perspectivas Transdisciplinares en Contextos Internacionales”. Oxford: Peter Lang (pp. 119-137).

Works in Progress

  • Conditional Citizens, Suspect Subjects: Producing "Illegality” and Policing Citizens in a Citizenship Education Classroom in Spain (journal article manuscript).

  • “Los Racistas Son Los Otros” [“The Racists are Others”]: Racialized violence, Racial Denial, and other e(Race)sures in the Educational Experiences of Immigrant Youth in Catalonia, Spain (journal article manuscript).

  • Teach for America and Undocumented Immigrant Students: Dreaming and Desiring during Times of (Neo)Liberalism (co-authored journal article manuscript with Mark Stern)

  • Whose Race Problem? Tracking Patterns of Racial Denial in US and European Educational Discourses on Muslim Youth (under review at Curriculum Inquiry; co-authored with Thea Abu El-Haj and Reva Jaffe-Walter)


  • Spencer Small Grant Recipient (2015-2016). Project title: Conditional Be/longings? Immigrant Youth Negotiating Migration, Nation, and the Politics of (Non)Belonging in Costa Rica
  • Council on Anthropology & Education (CAE) Early Career Presidential Fellow (November 2010) 
  • Council on Anthropology & Education (CAE) New Scholar Award Recipient (December 2009)
  • Ford Diversity Fellowship Honorable mention (2009 Dissertation Program)
  • National Science Foundation Writing Fellowship (2008)
  • UC President’s Dissertation Fellow (2007-2008)
  • NSF/SSRC Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Award (2006-2007)
  • UCSC Women’s Club Scholarship (Spring 2006)
  • AAUW Scholarship (American Association of University Women) (Spring 2005)
  • CEMELA fellow (Center for the Math Education of Latinos/as) (2005-2006)
  • UCSC Regents Fellowship (2004)
  • Delta Kappa Gamma Scholarship (Spring 2004)
  • UCSC Regents Fellowship (2003)
  • Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) recipient (1992-1993)

Academic Presentations

Youth of the Diaspora Speak Back: Struggles for Belonging and Dignity in the Identity Narratives
of Immigrant and Refugee Youth; Co-authored paper (with Amelia Massoud-Tastor) presented at NYSFEA Annual Conference, Colgate University, Hamilton (April, 2013)

Immigrant Youth Negotiating Processes of Inclusion-Exclusion in a Citizenship Education Classroom in Catalonia, Spain; Paper presented at CIES Annual Conference, New Orleans (March, 2013)

Beyond Conditional Belonging: Transnational Youth in Spain Navigating Borders of (Un)Belonging During Global Times; Paper presented at American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, San Francisco (November 2012)

The Tensions and Contradictions of Learning Citizenship Identities in a Citizenship Education Classroom, Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Vancouver (April, 2012)

Youth of Immigration and the Politics of Belonging in a Citizenship Education Classroom in a Catalan Secondary School, Paper presented at the American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, Montréal (November 2011)

Between Cosmopolitanisms and Cosmophobias: Discourses of Belonging and Difference in a Catalonian Institut, Paper to be presented at the American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, New Orleans (November, 2010)

Beyond Delinquent Citizenship, Paper presented at American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, Philadelphia (December 2009).

Indexing Differences Through and Beyond Language: Immigrant Youth and the Politics of Language and Belonging in a Catalonian Institut, Paper presented at the UC LMRI (Linguistic Minority Research Institute) Annual Conference, Riverside (May 2009).

Immigrant Youth, Citizenships, and the Politics of Belonging in a Catalonian High School, Paper presented at the American Education Research Association (AERA) Annual Conference, New York (March 2008)

Contested Citizenships: Reflections on the Politics of Belonging for “Youth of Immigration” in the Greater Barcelona Area, Paper presented at the II International Conference on Ethnography and Education: Migrations and Citizenships Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, (September 2007)

“Entre Familias”: A Critical Race Theory Perspective of Community Cultural Wealth Among Migrant Families, Paper presented at (April 2006) American Education Research Association (AERA, 2006)

Entre Familias” Exploring Cultural Agency in Migrant Families. Paper presented at (February 2006) Sociology of Education Association at Asilomar 

Thematic Scaffolds for ELL Learners. Action research project presented at ELL Institute (May 2002), New Teacher Center, Santa Cruz.

Research Experience

NSF/ SSRC (Social Science Research Council) Research Fellow for Children of Immigrants in Schools (CIS) (2006-2008) Pre-doctorate fellow working on the team sub-project titled, “Navigating Borders: Immigrant Youth in Schools and Communities in California and Catalonia.” guided by Margaret Gibson (UCSC) and Silvia Carrasco (Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona). This project forms part of a larger multi-national comparative project between various countries in Europe (France, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, and England) and the United States centered on immigration processes, integration, and the educational experiences of immigrant/immigrant-descent youth (Program Principal Investigator: Richard Alba, University at Albany, SUNY)

CEMELA (Center for the Math Education of Latinos/as) Research Fellow (2005-2006): Exploring the Everyday Math Practices in Latino families: A Critical Race Understanding of Community Cultural Wealth/Funds of Knowledge Follow-up qualitative study focused on documenting and examining the everyday math practices and mathematical funds of knowledge present in the homes and lives of Mexican migrant families living in the Watsonville area.

2nd Year Graduate Research Project (2004-2005): Entre Familias: Exploring the Cultural Agency of Mexican Immigrant Families A year-long ethnographic case-study analysis of two recent immigrant/migrant families exploring the relationship between agency, family, and culture in directing the learning experiences of immigrant students. Employing a Critical Race Theory analytical lens, the study lends a voice to the community cultural wealth and funds of knowledge thriving in immigrant communities of color, as it explores the strategies and practices that immigrant families employ in order to negotiate their journey through a new system of education and foreign society. Particular attention is directed at the parental messages (consejos) and other cultural narratives (migration stories/testimonios) shared in the home as one of the myriad strategies Mexican immigrant families use to help their children navigate across multiple borders.

“It’s a She Thang”: Field Research Project for Education 281: Ethnicity and Education -- 49’ers Academy in East Palo Alto in collaboration with San Jose Cleveland Ballet (2000) Research study conducted at an alternative (all girl) middle school located in a low-income predominantly African American and Latino neighborhood in the San Francisco Bay Area investigating the role of a (Hip Hop) performing arts program in the formation of girls’ academic identities.

Teaching Experience

Colgate University, Hamilton, New York
Assistant Professor: Department of Educational Studies
International and Comparative Education

California Polytechnic University (CalPoly), San Luis Obispo
Lecturer: Teaching Social Studies from a Multicultural Perspective
Undergraduate course in Multiple Subject Credential Program (School of Education); Winter Quarter 2012

University of California, Santa Cruz
Lecturer: Social Foundations of Education
Graduate course for Masters in Teaching Program; Summer 2008

EOP (Equal Opportunity Program)
Teaching Assistant: Evolution of Education
Undergraduate course, Professor: Ron Glass, Fall 2006

Head Teaching Assistant: Evolution of Education
Undergraduate course, Professor: David Swanger, Fall, 1999, Fall 2003 & Fall 2004

Teaching Assistant: Introduction to Issues of Diversity in Education
Undergraduate course, Professor: June Gordon; Spring 1999


"Conditional Belonging: Youth of Immigration and the Politics of Belonging in a Catalonian Institut"

Dissertation Committee: Dr. Margaret Gibson (dissertation advisor), Dr. Rodney Ogawa, Dr. Brad Olsen, and Dr. Patricia Zavella

Qualifying Exam Papers:
  1. Navigating In Between Rocks and Hard Places: Employing a U.S. Third-World Feminist and Critical Race Theory Perspective to Rethink Marginality, Resistance and Agency in Educational Research 

  2. (Re)imagining Citizenship: Exploring the Contours of Citizenship and the Politics of (non)Belonging for Immigrant/Minority Youth in the U.S. 

Second-Year Project: Entre Familias: Exploring the Cultural Agency of Mexican Immigrant Families