Assistant Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences in the College

Associated faculty, Divinity School

PhD, University of California Berkeley, 2015

Mareike Winchell is an anthropologist working at the intersection of critical indigenous studies, the anthropology of history, and environmental design. Her current book project, After Servitude: Indigenous Critique and the Undoing of Property in Bolivia, illuminates the unexpected ways that marginalized Bolivians re-elaborate colonial ruins as sources of ethical claim-making in the present. From 2006 to 2019, Bolivia’s National Institute of Agrarian Reform undertook an aggressive program of land titling aimed at clarifying rural land use and upending unpaid labor arrangements. Despite these efforts, indigenous mine-workers, farmers, and the kin of former hacienda masters and servants alike continued to cultivate family-based ties to former master families oriented by ideals that elites atone for past violence, including the rape of servants. This book offers an ethnographic account of these intimate zones of inter-familial aid and alliance to show how they muddled bureaucratic attempts to enact severed property—an idea that she argues has guided reformist orientations to land as well as to people.
Winchell is developing two new research projects that build on her scholarly interest in questions of indigeneity, sexuality, and environment. The first project, tentatively titled Just Documents: Property, Possession, and the Anti-Colonial Archive, draws from archival and ethnographic materials collected at Bolivia’s National Institute of Agrarian Reform to explore the legal claims of out-of-wedlock children (“natural children”) who were born within haciendas after 1953 and were not recognized by their master fathers. A second project, On Fire: Kawsay as Earth Politics in Post-Blaze Bolivia, undertakes a comparative ethnographic study of burning techniques and fire mitigation strategies in the Chiquitanios region of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. The project asks how, in the lead up to President Evo Morales' dramatic ousting from the Presidency in November 2019 and since, smoldering Cruzeño forests operate as key sites of national and international disagreement over resources, legitimate indigeneity, and planetary futures.
More generally, Winchell’s research and teaching take up questions of history and time; labor ethics; intimacy, race, and sexuality; environmental bureaucracy; critical theory and aesthetics; post-colonial and decolonial studies; landscape histories, political geography, and theories of cartography and spatial design in South America and the Andes specifically.
Winchell’s writing and digital scholarship appear in Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, Cultural Anthropology, Journal of Peasant Studies, and Comparative Studies in Society and History. Her research has been supported by generous grants and fellowships from a range of institutions, including the Josephine de Karman Fellowship Trust, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, UC Berkeley’s Townsend Center for the Humanities, and UChicago's Center for International Social Science Research (CISSR). She is currently a Faculty Fellow at UChicago's Franke Institute for the Humanities.

Contact Information

Office: Haskell 205
Phone: (773) 702-6755


n.d.       “Liberty time in question: Historical duration and indigenous refusal in post-revolutionary Bolivia.” Accepted at Comparative Studies in Society and History (CSSH).

2018    “After servitude: bonded histories and the encumbrances of exchange in indigenizing Bolivia,” Journal of Peasant Studies 45(2): 453-473.

2017    “Economies of obligation: Patronage as relational wealth in Bolivian gold mining.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 7(3): 1-25.

2017    “Remapping.” Correspondences, Cultural Anthropology. August 21st, 2017.

2015    Review of Along the Bolivian Highway: Social Mobility and Political Culture in a New Middle Class, by Miriam Shakow. Latin American Politics and Society 57(3): 155-180.

2010    On “Moral Ambitions of Grace.” [with Hannah Appel and Emily Yates-Doerr]. Anthropology News, Society for Cultural Anthropology Section News, January 2010: 46.

Manuscripts Under Review

2020    “Ethics,” for an edited journal volume celebrating the work and thought of Saba Mahmood. To be published in Debates do Ner (in Portuguese). With an introduction by Judith Butler.

Manuscripts in Preparation

2020    “Equivocal Landscapes: Ontology, ecological risk, and Quechua devotional practice in Ayopaya Bolivia,” chapter in Life in the Extractocene: Risk and Hope across Indigenous Worlds, edited volume for University of Pennsylvania Press, with a conclusion by Marisol de la Cadena.

2020    After Servitude: Indigenous Refusal and the Undoing of Property in Revolutionary Bolivia. Book manuscript (to be submitted for review in March 2020).

2020    “Unfree Exchange: Disruptive Itineraries of Labor Circulation in Bolivia,” to be submitted to the Journal of Economic Anthropology.

Manuscripts in Progress

2020    Just Documents? Property, Possession, and the Postcolonial Archive. Archival-ethnographic book project.

2020    On Fire: Kawsay (Life) as Earth Politics in Post-Blaze Bolivia. Book and collaborative media project.

Learn more about Professor Winchell's research & read her published work at: