Assistant Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences in the College

Associated Faculty, Divinity School; affiliate, Center for the Study of Race, Culture, and Politics, Center for Latin American Studies, and Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality

PhD, University of California Berkeley, 2015

Mareike Winchell is a political anthropologist interested broadly in intimacy, history, land, and governance with a focus on claim-making practices that depart from rights-based programs of institutional reform and repair. Winchell’s first book, After Servitude: Elusive Property and the Ethics of Kinship in Bolivia (University of California Press, 2022), traces competing ethical projects of historical repair related to legacies of labor subjection and sexual violence in central Bolivia. Theorizing after-ness not only as a sequential following but also as an active repurposing of history in the present, After Servitude illuminates the range of practices by which rural Bolivians navigate this oppressive labor past: through relations among the relatives of Quechua servants and Mestizo masters, in institutional sites of land redistribution, by way of practices of rural labor militancy, and through acts of care, sacrifice, and relationality with non-human kin. Such intimate engagements with history reveal a more durative orientation to justice, one that departs notably from utopic projects of property that require disarticulating land and people, and the present from the past.

Winchell is currently at work on two new projects. The first project, On Fire: Emergent Environmentalisms and Anti-Indigenous Sentiment in Bolivia, undertakes a comparative ethnographic study of burning techniques and fire mitigation strategies in the Chiquitanios region of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Such fire practices reveal how settler regimes of racialized property influence contemporary engagements with climate change, including efforts at climate change mitigation in agriculture. Conversely, they suggest how property and gender are coarticulated in Indigenous efforts to navigate changing climate in ways that resist the tendency to isolate environment from neo/colonial histories of Indigenous land dispossession, sexual violence, climatic disruptions and ecological loss.

A second project, 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”) born to indentured laborers after 1953. While sexuality is commonly understood as excessive to or erased by property regimes, this project considers how Indigenous claimants in Bolivia have maneuvered agrarian records in ways that allow for its bending to regional traditions of land gifting and adoption. The project seeks to answer broader questions about the relations between property and kinship, specifically how archival indeterminacies shape and reshape land relations and hierarchies.

Winchell’s writing and digital scholarship have appeared in Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, Cultural Anthropology, Journal of Peasant Studies, and Comparative Studies in Society and History.

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

After Servitude: Elusive Property and the Ethics of Kinship is available for pre-order here:  

Contact Information

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


N.d. 'A Future Facing the Past': Indigenous Activism and Ecocentric Ritual in Urban Bolivia. (article manuscript)

N.d. Making Killing Palatable: On Animal Love, White Affection, and the Racial Ghosts of Liberal Humanism. (article manuscript)

N.d. 'Satan, Be Gone!': Evangelicalism, Indigeneity, and Refusals in Hybridity in Post-Coup Bolivia. (article manuscript)

N.d. Gendering Racial Capital: Masculinity, Minerals, and Settler Detachment at a Bolivian Sodalite Mine. (article in preparation)

N.d. Indigeneity Usurped? Bolivia's Coup and Violent Deployments of Political (Un)Reason. (article manuscript under review)

N.d. Toward a Non-Archive of Loss: Indigenous Redemption in the Shadow of Contract's Demise. (article manuscript under review)

N.d. Critical Ontologies: Rethinking Relations to Other-than-humans from the Bolivia Andes. (article manuscript under review) 

2022. After Servitude: Elusive Property and the Ethics of Kinship in Bolivia. (Forthcoming with University of California Press)  

2021. "What Has Bolivia's Arce Achieved in His First 100 Days?" Inter-American Dialogue's Latin America Advisor, Featured Q&A, Tues February 16th 2021

2020. Liberty time in question: Historical duration and indigenous refusal in post-revolutionary Bolivia. Comparative Studies in Society and History 62(3): 551-587.

2020. Indigenous Citizenship and Political Action in Bolivia. entreVistas Episode 5. Featured interview.  

2020. Why Have Bolivians Decided to Bring MAS Back to Power? Latin America Advisor. Featured Q&A. Tues, October 20, 2020.

2019. Ética. Debates do Ner 2(36): 191-199.

2018. After Servitude: Bonded Histories and the Encumbrances of Exchange in Indigenizing Bolivia. The Journal of Peasant Studies 45(2): 453-473.
2018. Archival Research in the Digital Age. Dialogo: UChicago Social Sciences.

2017. Economies of Obligation: Patronage as Relational Wealth in Bolivian Gold Mining. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 7(3): 1-25.

2017. Remapping. Cultural Anthropology.  

2009. “On Moral Ambitions of Grace.” (with Hannah Appel and Emily Yates-Doerr). Anthropology News.