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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.