The Oberlin Review
<< Front page News April 21, 2006

Gina Perez Wins Book Award
Gina Perez: Her writing on working-class Puerto Ricans in Chicago has won a prestigous award.

Comparative American Studies professor Gina Perez has been selected as the 2006 recipient of the Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff Memorial Prize for the Critical Study of North America. Her now award-winning book is titled The Near Northwest Side Story: Migration, Displacement and Puerto Rican Families.

Every other year, the Society for the Anthropology of North America awards the prize to a book that, according to its website,, “deals with an important social issue to the discipline of anthropology, that has broader implications for social change or justice and is accessible beyond the discipline of anthropology.”

Perez’s publisher, the University of California Press, submitted the book.

“Its selection [for the book prize] was really meaningful to me,” said Perez. “The award is given to a book that has importance to social issues and social justice issues. For so many [professors], the work we do we want to be accessible beyond our classrooms and to make the world a better place.”

Perez’s book began as her doctoral dissertation. After graduating, she continued research for two years before publishing it as a book. The Near Northwest Side Story examines the lives of poor and working class Puerto Ricans in the north side of Chicago.

Junior Lydia Pelot-Hobbs read the book in “Latinos/as in a Comparative Perspective,” one of the three classes she has taken with Perez.

“Before reading it, I was actually worried,” said Pelot-Hobbs. “Because she’s my advisor, I thought, ‘What if I don’t like this book?’”

Pelot-Hobbs was impressed by the book’s in-depth research into transnationalism, economic structures, poverty and feminism.

“[Her students are] all really excited,” said Pelot-Hobbs. “The award is a really big deal because it’s her first book and it’s a really meaningful award based on what she does. The whole point of teaching is to hit as many people as possible, and to have a book about social justice that is accessible to a lot of people is exciting... She’s brilliant. We think she’ll be famous someday.”

Perez will be accepting the prize today at a SANA conference in New York. She will also give a short speech entitled, “Latinas/os and the New American Militarism.”


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