Bernadette Pérez is a historian of the United States, focusing particularly on the histories of Latinx and Indigenous peoples in the West. Her work is situated at the intersection of multiple subfields of history, from race and environment to labor, migration, and colonialism, studying empire and capitalism in action.
Migrant sugar beet workers are at the heart of her current work, following corporate sugar into southeastern Colorado at the turn of the twentieth century and tracing its efforts to hold diverse working communities within a highly unequal and hierarchical land and labor regime for the better part of a century. In doing so, she unearths the long and entangled histories of Indigenous, Mexican, Asian, and white peoples in a space structured by U.S. expansion, Indian removal, and anti-Blackness. Her book reveals the fundamental role that occupying, transforming, and controlling the land played in the evolution of the American state and racial capitalism in the post-Civil War period.
Before joining the faculty at Berkeley, she was the Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in Race and Ethnicity Studies at the Princeton Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts from 2017-2020, teaching courses in History and American Studies. She received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Minnesota after earning a Master’s in Latin American Studies from UC Berkeley.
- U.S. History
- American West
- Latinx History
- Indigenous History
- Relational Race Studies
- Agricultural and Environmental History
- Migration, Labor, Capitalism
- Transnational History
- U.S.-Mexico Borderlands
- U.S.-Latin American Relations
- Empire and Settler Colonialism