Katie O’Brien is Assistant Professor of Practice in the Center for Latin American Studies. Dr. O’Brien designs and teaches courses in a variety of modalities, including online and face-to-face. She teaches courses on the topics of religion, gender, feminism, development, and race/racism. Prior to joining the Center in 2016, she taught anthropology at Pima Community College and the University of Illinois, as well as English at the University of Costa Rica in San José, Costa Rica.
Dr. O’Brien is project coordinator for the Study of the United States Institute (SUSI) on Women's Leadership. Held biannually, this academic program brings Indigenous and Black college students from across Latin America to the Center for Latin American Studies to study U.S. women’s history and engage in local service learning projects for five weeks. In addition to coordinating programming and logistics, Dr. O’Brien delivers workshops on comparative U.S.-Latin American feminisms and facilitates the online course.
Dr. O'Brien holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Arts degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Arizona. Her research explores how religious identity intersects with the dynamics of generation and gender in the long-term aftermath of conversion in the Ecuadorian Andes. Her doctoral dissertation is based on fifteen months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Chimborazo Province, the site of a mass conversion of Kichwa-speaking indigenous peoples from Catholicism to evangelical Protestantism in the 1960s and 1970s. Dr. O’Brien has received funding from the Social Science Research Council to conduct research as well as Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowships to study Quechua. She has presented her research at numerous academic conferences, including the annual meetings of the Latin American Studies Association and the American Anthropological Association.