Bernadette Pérez is a historian of race and environment in the United States, specializing in the histories of Latinx and Indigenous peoples. She earned her Ph.D. in U.S. history from the University of Minnesota. She holds an M.A. in Latin American studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. in international relations from the University of Colorado, Boulder (her hometown).
At Princeton, Pérez is working on her first book, “American Sugar: Violence and Power in the Colorado Beet Fields.” Her manuscript centers the generations of Mexicano, Nuevomexicano, Tejano, Indigenous, and Japanese American migrant workers who labored in Colorado’s sugar beet fields in the 20th century. The Organization of American Historians, the Western History Association, the Council on Library and Information Resources, and the Mellon Foundation generously supported her research in local archives, corporate records, U.S. and Mexican state archives, and ethnographic collections. In 2018, her dissertation won the Immigration and Ethnic History Society’s Outstanding Dissertation Award, and the W. Turrentine Jackson Dissertation Award from the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association.
Pérez has taught courses in food history, media studies, gender and sexuality studies, migration history, 19th-century American legal history, and commodity history. At Princeton in the fall of 2019, she taught an undergraduate seminar on race in the American empire. The course illuminated entangled histories of racial violence in the United States, and asked what theories, stories, and paradigms do we need to confront our current moment of extreme inequality and racialized state violence.
In the fall of 2020, she joins the Department of History at the University of California, Berkeley as assistant professor in the history of the American West.