Dr. Kathleen C. O’Brien is a cultural anthropologist with regional expertise in the Andes. She is currently adjunct faculty in the Center for Latin American Studies. She is also project coordinator of the Study of the United States Institute (SUSI), a program that brings indigenous college students from Latin America to campus to learn about U.S. history, environment, and politics through a social justice lens.
Dr. O’Brien’s research explores how religious identity intersects with the dynamics of generation, gender, and indigeneity. Her doctoral dissertation is based on fifteen months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Ecuador's Chimborazo Province, the site of a mass conversion of Kichwa-speaking indigenous peoples from Catholicism to evangelical Protestantism in the 1960s. Dr. O’Brien’s work examines the emergence of intergenerational tensions in the long-term aftermath of conversion. She explores the ways in which the adult children and grandchildren of the area’s first converts contest gender and age hierarchies from within the indigenous evangelical movement while remaining committed believers.
Dr. O’Brien has more than five years of experience teaching undergraduate students. In addition to Latin American Studies, she has taught cultural anthropology and linguistic anthropology. She also taught English at the University of Costa Rica in San José, Costa Rica, where she lived for two years. Dr. O’Brien has designed and delivered courses across a variety of modalities, including hybrid, online, and traditional face-to-face. When Dr. O’Brien is not teaching, you might find her playing Ultimate Frisbee, salsa dancing, or trying to keep up with her two young children.
- Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2016
- M.A. in Latin American Studies, University of Arizona, 2003
- B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton College, 1998
- religion; indigenous peoples and movements; gender, sexuality, and feminisms; generation and social transformation; Ecuador, Andes
- LAS 150: Modern Latin America: Race, Rights, and Revolutions (Hybrid, 7.5 weeks)
- LAS 150: Modern Latin America: Race, Rights, and Revolutions (Face-to-Face, 16 weeks)
- LAS 150: Modern Latin America: Race, Rights, and Revolutions (Online, 7.5 weeks)
Areas of Study:
- Latin American Studies; Cultural Anthropology; Anthropology of Christianity