Civic Engagement; Community and Urban Studies; Local Economic Development; Play & Recreation; Racial Inequality (with a focus on Black and Latina/o/x populations)
A native of Mexican Chicago, Teresa Irene Gonzales, Ph.D., 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. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Urban Affairs and Social Problems, in edited volumes, and on Academic Minute. Her book, Building a Better Chicago: Race and Community Resistance to Urban Redevelopment, 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-by using collective skepticism-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 to minimize dissent and works to socialize members into a homogenous organizational culture that is oftentimes at odds with resident goals.
Gonzales is currently working on a new project, Grounds for Play: Race, Space, and Joyful Cities, that analyzes the playful reimagination of public place. She is particularly interested in understanding how public playfulness 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 a sense of local ownership over urban communities. She is excited to ground this project within four Gateway Cities in Massachusetts-Chelsea, Holyoke, Lawrence, and Lynn-that are experiencing increases in populations from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa alongside decaying infrastructure and slowing economies.