Erika Pérez

About Erika Pérez

Areas of Study

American West/Spanish Borderlands
Colonial America (broadly defined)
Nineteenth-century U.S.
Indigenous histories


I have just completed a manuscript on interethnic godparenting, sexuality and marriage in early Southern California, which shows how people wielded and responded to colonial power in their everyday intimate encounters. My book traverses the Spanish, Mexican and early American periods from 1769 to 1885, emphasizing the role of Spanish-Mexican women as agents of Spanish colonization, and indigenous and Spanish-Mexican women as shapers and sustainers of their cultures and communities through honorific roles, such as godmother and midwife. My book shows how foreign men Mexicanized themselves to acculturate into Spanish-Mexican society, and how the mixed offspring of interethnic couples negotiated their identities in the aftermath of changing racial and political landscapes in nineteenth-century California. I pay particular attention to the gendering of biethnic children's experiences and the unevenness of conquest, even among members of the same family. Lastly, I examine the ongoing struggles and survival of indigenous families, and ongoing waves of violence against indigenous and Spanish-speaking women in the wake of the Gold Rush. Although the regional focus of my book is rooted in southern California, I am interested broadly in the history of the American West and the Spanish Borderlands, particularly in empire-building projects, and identity-formation and negotiations by people of mixed descent. I am also interested in indigenous histories of resistance and cultural survival throughout early North America.

Selected Publications:

Colonial Intimacies: Interethnic Kinship, Sexuality, and Marriage in Southern California, 1769-1885 (University of Oklahoma Press, forthcoming).

“Family, Spiritual Kinship, and Social Hierarchy in Early California” Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 14, no. 4 (Fall 2016): 661-687. DOI:

"The Paradox of Kinship:  Native-Catholic Communities in Alta California, 1769-1840s," in On the Borders of Love and Power, edited by David Wallace Adams and Crista DeLuzio (University of California Press, 2012).

"'Saludos from your comadre:'  Compadrazgo as a Community Institution in Alta California, 1769-1860s," California History:  The Journal of the California Historical Society 88, no. 4 (September 2011):  47-62, notes 70-73. Stable URL:

Web Review, Huntington Library's "The Early California Population Project," 10, no. 4 (July 2010).

Erika Pérez's picture

Contact Information

Erika Pérez
Assistant Professor, Affiliated faculty, Gender and Women's Studies
Telephone: 520-626-8548
Fax: 520-621-2422
Office: Chavez 326
Office Hours: Mon 2 - 3:00 pm (Hist/GWS 254); Fri 2:15 - 3:15 pm (Hist 458/558); and by appt.


Ph.D., History (2010) University of California, Los Angeles

Graduate Concentration Certificate, Women's Studies (2007), UCLA

M.A., History (2006) UCLA

M.A., History/Gender (2004) San Francisco State University

B.A., History (1995) University of California, Berkeley

Courses Taught

*Co-faculty advisor of Phi Alpha Theta with Katie Hemphill

UA History Undergraduate Courses:

*Hist/GWS 254 (Spring 2018) U.S. Women's History: 1890 to Present

Hist 280 (Fall/Spring) Sports and Ethnic America: 1900 to Present

Hist/GWS 253 (Fall): U.S. Women's History: Colonial to 1890

Hist 498 (Spring 2017) Senior Capstone: Sports History as U.S. History

Hist 498H Honors Thesis (must be contracted)
UA History Graduate Courses:

*Hist 458/558 (Spring 2018) Topics in Comparative Women's History: Witchcrazes and the Supernatural (co-convened undergraduate & graduate students)

Hist 695H (Fall 2017) Advanced Topics in Comparative History:  Global Borderlands

Hist 495/595F (Spring 2016) Topics in U.S. History: U.S. Women of Color (co-convened undergraduate/graduate)

Hist 695A (Spring 2015) Advanced Topics in U.S. History: Native American Battles for Tribal Sovereignty and Self-Determination

Hist 695A (Spring 2014) Advanced Topics in U.S. History: Gender, Women and Empire in the U.S.
Dissertation Advisees:
Lora M. Key, "We're All Americans Now: How Mexican American Identity, Culture, and Gender Forged Civil Rights in World War II and Beyond" (in progress)
María Concepción Marquez Sandoval, "Mexican Army Wives and Woman Soldiers, 1938-2016" (in progress)
David J. Wysocki-Quiros, "Exercising the Cosmic Race: Mexican Sporting Culture and Mestizo Citizens" (defended August 2017)
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Contact Us

Department of History
Cesar E. Chavez
Main Office, Room 415 
1110 James E. Rogers Way
Tucson, AZ 85721
Tel: (520) 621-1586
Fax: (520) 621-2422