Kathleen C. O'Brien

Assistant Professor of Practice, Anthropology & Andean Studies

Academic Coordinator

Project Coordinator, Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) on Women's Leadership

Katie O’Brien is Assistant Professor of Practice in the Center for Latin American Studies. Dr. O’Brien teaches courses on Latin American studies, religion, gender, sexuality, feminism, development, and race/racism. She specializes in online course design and collaborates with fellow faculty members to create online courses. As the academic coordinator for the Center for Latin American Studies, Dr. O’Brien manages curriculum and enrollment as well as graduate student admissions, TA/RAships, and scholarships. Dr. O'Brien is also 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 multiple generations of indigenous evangelicals negotiate religious identity and gender relations 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.