Teresa Gonzales, PhD
Title/s: Assistant Professor
Specialty Area: Urban Sociology, Racial and Gender Inequality (with a focus on Black and Latina/o/x populations); Civic Engagement; Economic Development; Playfulness, Leisure, & Joy
Office #: Coffey 439
CV Link: Gonzales, Teresa CV (Aug 2022)
External Webpage: https://teresagonzales.com
A native of Mexican Chicago, Prof. Teresa Irene Gonzales firmly believes in the capacity of sociology to redress social injustices and inequalities. As a feminist, and a woman of color urbanist, she is rooted in community-engaged pedagogy and scholarship and strives toward a practice of reciprocity in research. She received her doctorate and master’s degrees from the University of California Berkeley in Sociology, and her bachelor’s degree from Smith College in Latin American & Latina/o Studies with a focus on literature and history. She is the recipient of several national prestigious awards and fellowships, including from the Institute for Citizens & Scholars (previously the Woodrow Wilson Foundation), the NASEM Ford Foundation, and the MMUF program. Her work is situated at the intersections of feminist, urban, and organizational theories with a focus on race, gender, class, and structural racism. She has over ten years of experience with analyzing community responses to racial and income marginalization in the United States, with several publications. Gonzales’ work has appeared in the Journal of Urban Affairs, Rural Sociology, Social Problems, and on Academic Minute. She has shared her work at academic conferences, through invited talks, and in more accessible platforms including academic blogs, YouTube interviews, and public radio segments. As part of her commitment to eradicating income- and race-disparities, she has worked with community organizations in Illinois and Massachusetts.
Her book, Building a Better Chicago: Race and Community Resistance to Urban Redevelopment (NYU Press 2021), shows how powerful redevelopment intermediaries influence local nonprofits and reshape the urban landscape to further marginalize communities of color. However, she also shows how these communities advocate for themselves and demand accountability from the politicians and agencies in their midst.
Her findings challenge reigning theories that highlight the denigrative impacts of mistrust within poor Black and Latina/o/x neighborhoods while promoting the importance of trust between neighborhood-based nonprofits and municipal governments. She shows that organizational trust can be used as a mode of control and works to socialize members into a homogenous organizational culture that is oftentimes at odds with resident goals. Conversely, she argues that strategic mistrust, what she terms collective skepticism, can be used by community activists when engaging with city hall.
Prof. Gonzales is currently working on a several new and on-going projects. The first, Grounds for Play: Race, Space, and Joyful Cities, is a multi-qualitative methods project that analyzes the importance of play, leisure, and joy in building social cohesion and community engagement within mid-size cities with predominantly Black and Latina/o/x populations. She is particularly interested in understanding how public forms of group play and leisure can be used to improve both structural barriers and personal outcomes for Black and Latina/o/x communities. This includes transforming narratives of the presence of racially marginalized groups in public space as cause for celebration, rather than suspicion, and increasing social cohesion and local ownership over urban communities.
The second, Heart & Soul: Rural communities and economic development, analyzes the efforts of rural deindustrialized towns to implement civically engaged redevelopment projects. This includes analysis of the impact of town-level narrative to a) encourage resident involvement and b) reify race- and class-based marginalization particularly for African and Mexican American populations in the rural Midwest. Findings highlight 1) the ways that space and class become racialized and interlinked within small town narratives 2) the impact this has on the inclusion or exclusion of Mexican and African American groups and 3) the effect this has on civic engagement, improved quality of life, and transformative narratives regarding racialized rural poverty.
Gonzales also has two collaborative projects in the pipeline. This includes her participation in a transdisciplinary team housed at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Working closely with community stakeholders (residents, neighborhood groups, nonprofits, drinking water utilities, regulatory agencies, and elected officials) they are piloting a smart Internet of Things (IoT) enabled water-quality monitoring and alert system in several socio-economically diverse areas of Massachusetts. Her role on the project includes co-developing university and community partnerships to provide feedback and real-world testing of the technology, co-developing educational workshops materials to educate communities on drinking water quality and strategies to ensure their drinking water is safe, and working with area nonprofits to train low income and racially marginalized residents in EPA methods for collecting and analyzing water samples. More information can be found here: https://www.uml.edu/research/cleanwater/
Finally, in collaboration with colleagues in Criminal Justice at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, she is analyzing how a virtual group of Kenyan immigrant women use their social networks to address issues of safety and create alternative sites of social support within the United States and Canada.
Prof. Gonzales is excited to be back in a predominantly Black and Latina/o/x city, with a strong social movements and activist core.
University of California Berkeley, 2014
University of California Berkeley, 2009
BA, Latin American & Latina/o Studies
Smith College, 2007
City Colleges of Chicago, Harold Washington Campus, 2004
Professional & Community Affiliations
American Sociological Association
American Studies Association
Society for the Study of Social Problems
Urban Affairs Association
Intro to Sociology (SOCL 101)
Chicago: Growth of a Metropolis (SOCL 125)
Cities, Suburbs, & Beyond (SOCL 234)
Urban Sociology Graduate Seminar (SOCL 520)
Gonzales, Teresa Irene, Elizabeth M. Thissell, Soumitra Thorat. (2022). “The Stories We Tell: Colorblind Racism, Classblindness, and Narrative Framing in the Rural Midwest.” Rural Sociology Journal 87(4): 1274-1301. (Online first Aug 2022), open access. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ruso.12461.
Gonzales, Teresa Irene. (2022). “Ratchet-Rasquache Activism: Aesthetic and Discursive Frames within Chicago-based women-of-color activism.” Social Problems 69(2): 380-97. https://doi.org/10.1093/socpro/spaa034. (Online first 2020).
Co-Winner, American Sociological Association, Latina/o Sociology Section Distinguished Contribution to Research Article Award, 2022
Winner, Society for the Study of Social Problems, Arlene Kaplan Daniels Paper Award, 2021
Chenane, Joselyne L., Melissa S. Morabito, Teresa Irene Gonzales. (2022). Perceptions of Police Among Kenyan Female Immigrants in the United States. Feminist Criminology. https://doi.org/10.1177/15570851221101144
Gonzales, Teresa Irene. (2021). Building a Better Chicago: Race and Community Resistance to Urban Redevelopment. Latina/o Sociology Series. NY: New York University Press.
Gonzales, Teresa Irene. (2021). “Semillas de Justicia: Chicana Environmentalism in Chicago.” Contracted chapter for Latinas and the Politics of Urban Spaces, Sharon Navarro and Lillian A. Saldaña (eds). New York, NY: Routledge.
Gonzales, Teresa Irene. (2017). “Two sides of the same coin: The New Communities’ Program, grassroots organizations, and leadership development within two Chicago neighborhoods.” Journal of Urban Affairs 39(8): 1138-54.