Kerry Preibisch was a much loved professor in Sociology and Anthropology and International Development Studies. She joined the University of Guelph in 2001 and was a generous mentor to many students, colleagues and activists.
Through her impressive career, Kerry became an internationally recognized scholar for her work in rural sociology, globalized agricultural and food systems and the people who labour in these systems, particularly migrant farm workers. Kerry worked especially closely with migrant women from Mexico and Guatemala. Based on years of dedicated research, she was among the first scholars to write about the unique issues faced by migrant women in a field normally dominated by the male perspective. She also helped us to understand the social relations between migrant workers and Canadian communities and migrants’ centrality to Canadian and global food systems.
Kerry’s findings not only made their way into renowned national and international scholarly journals; she also returned her research directly to the migrant workers, engaging them and their communities in helping to create positive change. The workers deeply cared for and appreciated the woman whom they affectionately called “la profesora Kerry.”
Kerry gave expert testimony at human rights tribunal proceedings and in front of various provincial, national and international bodies, tirelessly advocating for better treatment and policies for the migrant workers she loved. She was recognized with a César E. Chávez Black Eagle Award in agricultural workers’ rights for her efforts.
To honour her memory, and to recognize the importance of her academic work and extend its reach, the University of Guelph, with her friends and family, is establishing a graduate scholarship in her name. This scholarship will be awarded to a graduate student in any department at the University whose research involves fieldwork and will have a demonstrated benefit to the migrant worker community in Canada, and especially women.