Teresa Irene Gonzales, PhD

Sociologist, Feminist, Urbanist


A native of Mexican Chicago, born and raised in the Pilsen community, I am an urban sociologist who firmly believes in the capacity of sociology to redress social injustices and inequalities. As a feminist, and a woman of color urbanist, I am rooted in community-engaged pedagogy and scholarship and strive towards a practice of reciprocity in research.

I am currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Loyola University Chicago where I teach an array of courses focused on cities, public space, and collective joy within Black and Brown communities.

Building a Better Chicago

In 2021, I published my first book, Building a Better Chicago: Race and Community Resistance to Urban Redevelopment (NYU Press).

Despite promises from politicians, nonprofits, and government agencies, Chicago’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods remain plagued by poverty, failing schools, and gang activity. In Building a Better Chicago, I show us how, and why, these promises have gone unfulfilled, and reveal tensions between neighborhood residents and the institutions that claim to represent them.

Focusing on Little Village, the largest Mexican immigrant community in the Midwest, and Greater Englewood, a predominantly Black neighborhood, I provide an on-the-ground look at Chicago’s inner city. I demonstrate how philanthropists, nonprofits, and government agencies struggle for power and control–often against the interests of residents themselves–with the result of further marginalizing the communities of color they seek to help. But I also show how these communities have advocated for themselves and demanded accountability from the politicians and agencies in their midst, through the strategic use of mistrust, what I call collective skepticism. Building a Better Chicago explores the many high-stakes battles taking place on the streets of Chicago, illuminating a more promising pathway to empowering communities of color in the twenty-first century.