Bernadette Pérez

Department: History

I am a historian of the United States. I focus particularly on the histories of Latinx and Indigenous peoples in the West. My work is situated at the intersection of multiple subfields of history, from race and environment to labor, migration, and colonialism. In other words, I study empire and capitalism in action.

Migrant sugar beet workers are at the heart of my current work. In my manuscript, I follow corporate sugar into southeastern Colorado at the turn of the twentieth century and trace 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, I unearth 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. My 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.