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Michelle McKinley

Bernard B. Kliks Professor of Law

Law, Law-JD, Legal Studies
Phone: 541-346-5191
Office: 356 Knight Law Center


Michelle McKinley is the Bernard B. Kliks Professor of Law at the University of Oregon Law School and director for the Center for the Study of Women in Society.  McKinley has taught on the faculties of the University of Hawai’i, Universidad de los Andes, University of Kansas, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, and Princeton University. She teaches in the areas of Public International Law and feminist studies. Professor McKinley attended Harvard Law School, where she was Executive Editor of the Harvard Human Rights Journal and graduated cum laude in 1995. Professor McKinley also holds a Masters Degree in Social Anthropology from Oxford University.

McKinley has extensively published work on public international law, Latin American legal history, and the law of slavery. Her monograph, Fractional Freedoms: Slavery, Intimacy and Legal Mobilization in Colonial Lima, 1600-1700 was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016. The monograph examines enslaved women in colonial Lima who used ecclesiastical and civil courts to litigate their claims to liberty. Fractional Freedoms received the 2017 Judy Ewell prize for best work in women’s history from RMCLAS, and an honorary mention for the best work in sociolegal history from the Law and Society Association.

She has received fellowships for her research from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, and the Newberry Library.  She was awarded the Surrency Prize in 2011 for her article, 'Fractional Freedoms: Legal Activism & Ecclesiastical Courts in Colonial Lima, 1593-1700. In 2014, she was a fellow in residence at Princeton University's Program in Law and Public Affairs.

Prior to joining the academy, Professor McKinley was the former Managing Director of Cultural Survival, an advocacy and research organization dedicated to indigenous peoples. She is also the founder, and former director, of the Amazonian Peoples' Resources Initiative, a community based reproductive rights organization in Peru, where she worked for nine years as an advocate for global health and human rights.


“Illicit Intimacies: Virtuous Concubinage in Colonial Lima.” Journal of Family History. 39:3 (July 2014): 204-21.

Awarded the Ligia Parra Jahn award for the best publication on women’s history published in 2014 by the Rocky Mountain Council on Latin American Studies.

“Standing on Shaky Ground: Criminal Jurisdiction and Ecclesiastical Immunity in Seventeenth-Century Lima.” University of California-Irvine Law Review, 5:3 (2014): 101-34.

“Till Death Do Us Part: Testamentary Manumission in Seventeenth-Century Lima.” Slavery and Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post Slave Studies, 33: 3 (2012): 381-401.

“The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Black): Racial Constructions of Culture and Cultural Constructions of Race in Latin America,” (contributed chapter to Racial Formations in the 21st Century, Daniel Martinez-Hosang, Oneka LaBennett, & Laura Pulido, eds., University of California Press, 2012), 116-42.

Selected for presentation at “We Must First Take Account,” Inaugural conference of Race, Law and History at University of Michigan Law School, April 2011.

“Such Unsightly Unions Could Never Result in Holy Matrimony”: Mixed-Status Marriages in Seventeenth-Century Colonial Lima.” Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities 22:2 (2010): 217-55.

“Fractional Freedoms: Slavery, Legal Activism & Ecclesiastical Courts in Colonial Lima, 1593-1700.” Law and History Review, 28:3 (2010): 749-90.

Awarded the Edwin Surrency Prize, (2011), by the American Society for Legal History for the best article published in the Law and History Review.

“Conviviality, Hospitality, and Cosmopolitan Citizenship.” Unbound: Harvard Law Journal of the Legal Left, 5: 55-87 (2009).

“Cultural Culprits.” 24 Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law and Justice 91 (2009): 91-165.

Selected for Law and Humanities Junior Scholars Workshop 2009, Georgetown University Law School.

“Moral Geographies and Intimate Spaces: Affective Labor in the Global Economy.” 9 Oregon Review of International Law 261 (2007): 261-99.

“Emancipatory Practices and Rebellious Politics: Incorporating Global Human Rights in Family Violence Laws in Peru.” New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 39:1 (2006): 75-139.

“Planning Other Families: Negotiating Population and Identity Politics in the Peruvian Amazon.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 10:1 (2003): 30-58.

“In Our Own Voices: Women’s Radio Programming in the Amazonian Mediascape.” (with Lene Jensen), Critical Studies in Media Communication 20:2 (2003): 10-31.

“Contested Exchanges: Habilitación and the Politics of Social Mobility among the Urarina.” Amazonia Peruana: Special Issue of Law and Indigenous Peoples. vol. 28-29 (December 2003): 207-41.

Spanish translation: “Intercambios en litigio: peonaje por deuda y políticas de movilidad social entre los Urarina.”

“Fostering Reproductive Health through Entertainment-education in the Peruvian Amazon: The Radio Broadcast “Bienvenida Salud!,” with Beverly Davenport Sypher, Samantha Ventsam & Eliana Elías. Communication Theory 12:2 (2002): 192-205.

“The Amazonian Peoples’ Resources Initiative: Promoting Reproductive Rights and Community Development in the Peruvian Amazon.” with Bartholomew Dean, Eliana Elías & Rebekah Saul. Harvard Journal of Health and Human Rights: A Special Issue of Reproductive and Sexual Rights 4:2 (2000): 219-26.

“Life Stories, Disclosure and the Law: AutoBiography and the Legal Process in Political Asylum Claims.” Political and Legal Anthropology Review 20:2 (1997): 70-82. (Reprinted in Applying Cultural Anthropology: An Introductory Reader, 7th Ed.).

Book Reviews

Rachel Ida Buff, ed., Immigrant Rights in the Shadow of Citizenship (NYU Press), Journal of American Ethnic History 29 (2010).

Elisa Camiscioli, Reproducing The French Race: Immigration, Intimacy and Embodiment (Duke University Press, 2008). Journal of Interdisciplinary History XLI: 3 (2010).

Christopher Tomlins, Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580-1865 (Cambridge University Press), Law and Society Review 46: 3 (Sept 2012): 655-8.