Skip to main content

Faculty and Staff

Monica Perales
Associate Professor

As of Fall 2023, Dr. Perales has moved to the University of Texas at San Antonio Institute for Texan Cultures.

Monica Perales

Phone: (713) 743-3103
Office: 564 Agnes Arnold Hall

Dr. Monica Perales is an Associate Professor of History and Director of the Center for Public History at UH. She received her Ph.D. in history from Stanford University in 2004. She has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards including the Ruth A. Allen Pioneer in Working Class Studies Award, and was a Summerlee Fellow in Texas History at the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University (2006-2007). Professor Perales has served on the boards of Humanities Texas (the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities), the Urban History Association, the Labor and Working Class History Association, and the Texas State Historical Association. She presently serves as the Vice President of the advisory board of Foodways Texas, a statewide organization that preserves, promotes, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the state. She also holds a B.A. in Journalism (1994) and M.A. in History (1996) from the University of Texas at El Paso.


Dr. Perales teaches the second half of the Texas History sequence, as well as graduate and undergraduate courses in Latinx and Mexican American history, public history, and American food history. In 2018 she was the recipient of a University of Houston Teaching Excellence Award for her community engaged teaching. She has also been the recipient and co-recipient of several teaching grants to support public history and food studies curriculum development, including a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (with Dr. Todd Romero) that led to the development of the Food & Society Minor, and a Multicultural Student Success Grant from the Office of the Provost to develop undergraduate public history internships.

back to top

Research Interests

Dr. Perales’ research explores questions of race, gender, labor, and identity on the border. She is presently working on a manuscript project on Mexican American women, labor, and foodways in the U.S. Southwest in the 20th century. Her first book, "Smeltertown: Making and Remembering a Southwest Border Community" (University of North Carolina Press, 2010) received the 2010 Kenneth Jackson Award for Best Book (North America) from the Urban History Association and was a finalist for the 2010 William P. Clements Prize for the Best Non-Fiction Book on Southwestern America. Her article, "Fighting to Stay in Smeltertown," was named best article by the Oral History Association in 2008.

Through the Center for Public History, she has also collaborated with Dr. Todd Romero on oral history projects through the "Gulf Coast Food Project: History, Culture, and Economy," which documents the diverse food history of the Gulf Coast region.

back to top

Selected Publications



  • “The Food Historian’s Dilemma: Reconsidering the Role of Authenticity in Food Scholarship,” State-of-the-field Roundtable, Journal of American History (December 2016).

  •  Monica Perales and Sandra I. Enriquez, “El Paso.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Latino Studies. Ed. Ilan Stavans. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

  •  “The ‘New Mexican Way’: The New Mexico Agricultural Extension Agency, Hispanas, and Making a Regional Cuisine,” in Meredith Abarca and Consuelo Salas, eds., Latinas/os’ Invisible and Visible Presences in the Food Systems: Changing How We Eat and Who We Are (University of Arkansas Press, forthcoming 2015).

  •  “On Borderlands/La Frontera: Gloria Anzaldúa and Twenty-Five Years of Research on Gender in the Borderlands,” Journal of Women’s History, 25th Anniversary Issue, vol. 25, no. 4 (Winter 2013).

  •  "Who has a greater job than a mother?: Defining Mexican Motherhood on the US-Mexico Border in the Early 20th Century," in David Adams and Crista DeLuzio, eds. On the Borders of Love and Power: Family and Kinship in the Intercultural American Southwest (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012).

  •  “Fighting to Stay in Smeltertown: Lead Contamination and Environmental Justice in a Mexican American Community” (Western Historical Quarterly, Spring 2008).