University of Oregon law professor Michelle McKinley has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for her book manuscript, entitled “Fractional Freedoms: Slavery, Legal Activism, and Ecclesiastical Courts in Colonial Lima, 1593-1700.”
A member of the CSWS Women of Color Project, McKinley began teaching at the UO School of Law in 2007. She is researching legal actions taken by female slaves to achieve freedom for themselves and their children in 17th-century Peru.
“This is an extremely challenging project to take on, one that will result in scholarship of lasting importance and real depth,” said UO history professor Peggy Pascoe in her letter of recommendation to the NEH. Pascoe, the award-winning author of What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America, said: “I think Fractional Freedoms will be an important book, and attract considerable attention from interdisciplinary scholars of marriage, law, history, and slavery as well as from specialists on Peru.”
Pascoe added: “Michelle’s work stands out for the stunning depth of her pioneering archival research. She has burrowed through the enormous and little-used archives of ecclesiastical court cases from colonial Peru, uncovering cases that provide extraordinarily rich evidence of the tug-of-war between slavery and freedom, the vast influence of religion, the ongoing process of racial formation, women’s struggles against patriarchal owners and husbands, and the formation of a fascinating, and so far little-understood, legal culture.”