Atamhi Cawayu


Atamhi Cawayu is a PhD fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders. He is affiliated to the Centre for Research on Culture and Gender at Ghent University and to the Institute of Behavioral and Human Sciences at the Bolivian Catholic University “San Pablo”. Cawayu holds a master’s degree in Sociology (2015, magna cum laude) and Gender and Diversity Studies (2016, magna cum laude). In 2016 he won the DiverGent Thesis Prize for his master’s thesis on the educational trajectories of unaccompanied minors in Sociology. In 2017 he was awarded a four-year fellowship for his project on the politics of child relinquishment, search and reunion in transnational adoption from Bolivia. His research aims to centralise the narratives of Bolivian first families, and to bring the Bolivian adoption system in perspective. His PhD project can be considered as action research as he assisted adoptees and adoptive families in searching for their first families. He relies on a feminist, decolonial and anthropological approach to complete his research. 

In his professional career he has held various positions in relation to adoption. In 2016 he was a board member of the Flemish Adoption Support Centre (Steunpunt Adoptie). In 2017 he worked as a staff member at the Flemish Central Authority for Adoption (Vlaams Centrum voor Adoptie). During his PhD research he participated in and organised various adoption events, panels and conferences. In 2019 he was designated as expert to complete the government-installed commission on malpractices in transnational adoption in Flanders (2019-2021). In 2021 he became chairman of the Flemish Centre of Origins (Afstammingscentrum), a government-funded NGO that facilitates searches of domestic and transnational adoptees, donor conceived people and the métis people. In addition to his professional commitments, he is also founder of Network of Bolivian Adoptees. 

See my personal page at the Research Platform of the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy


Research projects

Academic articles

  • Cawayu, Atamhi & Katrien De Graeve (2022), ‘From primal to colonial wound: Bolivian adoptees reclaiming the narrative of healing’. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 29(5), 576-593
  • De Graeve, Katrien & Christof Bex (2017), ‘Caringcapes and Belonging: An Intersectional Analysis of Care Relationships of Unaccompanied Minors in Belgium’. Children’s Geographies , 15(1), 80-92(published online 13 November 2016).
  • De Graeve, Katrien & Christof Bex (2016), ‘Imageries of Family and Nation: A Comparative Analysis of Transnational Adoption and Care for Unaccompanied Minors in Belgium’. Childhood,  23(4), 492-505 (published online 30 November 2015).
  • Bex, Christof & Katrien De Graeve (2016), ‘Alleen Bouwen aan een Toekomst in het Secundair Onderwijs’. Samenleving en Politiek, 23(5), 41-47


Cawayu, Atamhi, Teresa Norman & Vicente Mollestad (2022) Network of Bolivian Adoptees: Communal Histories of Displacement and Adoption. Oslo: Konsis.


Essays and online articles

  • Cawayu, Atamhi (2021) Adoptiesysteem radicaal herschikken, Kerk en Leven – 5 oktober 2021
  • Cawayu, Atamhi (2021), ¿Qué tipo de homosexualidad hay para nosotrxs cuando se es desplazado, cuir y moreno-indígena?,  migrante #0 (fanzine), p. 24-25
  • Meerdere auteurs (2019) Kinderen zijn geen koopwaar: Hoe verder met interlandelijke adoptie? Hoog tijd voor reflectie, MO* Mondiaal Nieuws
  • Bex, Christof (2019) ‘Verslag: Eerste Internationale Bijeenkomst voor Boliviaans Geadopteerden’, published by Steunpunt Adoptie
  • Bex, Christof (2018), ‘Whiteness and Racism in the Queer Community: A Queer Adoptee of Colour Perspective’. In L. Long (ed.), ICAV Perspective Paper: LGBTQ Intercountry & Transracial Adoptee Experiences, 7-10.
  • Bex, Christof & Muhammet Şen (2018) ‘Racisme en Witheid in de Queer Wereld: Tussen Fetisj en Uitsluiting’, published by KifKifMerhabaKnackZizo-magazine
  • Bex, Christof (2016) ‘Een reactie na Orlando: Een Kritische Stem in een Onevenwichtig Debat’, published by Merhaba
  • Bex, Christof (2015) ‘Reconstructing my Past: A Quest to Find my Bolivian Birth Mother’, published by Bolivian Express

Podcast & interviews


  • Cawayu, Atamhi (2022) “They only help us to send us away”: On (not) assisting in first family searches in transnational adoption from Bolivia. 8º Congreso Internacional de Antropología AIBR, University of Salamanca, 12-15 Julio 2022
  • Cawayu, Atamhi (2021) Framing child abandonment in Bolivia: A decolonial critique on first family constructions in adoption document.  Workshop and expert seminar: Children at the intersection of humanitarian action and (post)colonial politics. Historical ad contemporary perspectives on adoption, education, and care, University of Florece (hybrid event)
  • Cawayu, Atamhi (2021). Framing child abandonment in Bolivia: A decolonial critique on first family constructions in adoption documents. ASAC 2021 eighth biennial virtual conference, 22-23 October 2021
  • Cawayu, Atamhi (2021). From colonial wounds to decolonial healing. Decolonial narratives within transnational adoption: A critical conversation between adoptees. Decolonize VUB, virtual seminar, 24 February 2021
  • Cawayu, Atamhi (2021). “From Our Rotting Bodies, Politics Shall Grow”: Necropolitics, Social Death and Transnational Adoption. International Conference: Colonial/Racial Histories, National Narratives and Transnational Migration, University of Helsinki, Finland, 11-14 January, 2021 (virtual conference)
  • Cawayu, Atamhi & De Graeve Katrien (2019). From primal wound to colonial wound: Reclaiming the narrative of healing by Bolivian adoptees in Flanders, Belgium, XI AFIN International Conference: Toward Reproductive (In)justice? – University of Granada, 4-6 September 2019
  • Bex, Christof (2019). Between colonialism and modernity: A decolonial and feminist perspective on transnational adoption from Latin America, Chilean Adoptees Worldwide EU-conference, Amsterdam, 25 May 2019
  • Bex, Christof (2019). Over (koloniale) wonden en healing: Transnationaal geadopteerden in de diaspora, Symposium interlandelijke adoptie, Brussels, 27 April 2019.
  • Bex, Christof (2019). The politics of re-kinning: Reunion in transnational adoption from Bolivia, International Conference: Contested Kinship – Georg-August-University Göttingen, 14-16 March 2019.
  • Bex, Christof (2019). From adoptee to adoption researcher: Investigating intercountry adoption in Bolivia, 1st International Gathering NBA, Brussels, 26 January 2019
  • Bex, Christof (2018). Algunas reflexiones como el sistema de adopción influya las vidas de personas adoptadas. Conservatorio ‘La adopción, una forma de hacer familia’, Ministery of Justice in La Paz, 6 December 2018.
  • Bex, Christof (2018). Ser adoptado en Bélgica: Experiencias de los adoptados bolivianos en Bélgica. Universidad Salisianas in La Paz, 28 August 2018.
  • Bex, Christof (2018). Eating the adoptee: Cultural commodification, Whiteness and interracial intimacies in Belgian-Bolivian adoption, CRCG Brown Bag Seminar – Ghent University, 20 June 2018.
  • Bex, Christof (2018). Eating the adoptee: Cultural commodification, Whiteness and adoptees’ resistance in Bolivian-Belgian adoption, RHEA Research Semniar – Free University of Brussels, 13 March 2018.
  • Bex, Christof (2017). A Journey to the Past: Power and Privilege in Searching for First Parents in Bolivian Transnational Adoption, AFIN Workshop – Autonomous University of Barcelona, 16 November 2017.