Dr. Colleen Alena O’Brien

Dr. Colleen Alena O’Brien Dr. Colleen Alena O’Brien Image: privat
  • Researcher, Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies


Education Expand entry
  • PhD in Linguistics University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Title of Dissertation: A grammatical description Kamsá, a language isolate of Colombia. December 2018
  • M.A. in Linguistics, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. May 2013.
  • B.A. in Anthropology & Classical Languages, University of Miami. May 2010
Previous Positions Expand entry
  • Fulbright Fellowship. Project: “Description and documentation of the Gorontalo Language of Sulawesi.” Gorontalo, Indonesia. November 2019–July 2020
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship. DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst). Faculty of Latin American Studies, Freie Universität, Berlin. December 2018–August 2019
  • Visiting Researcher, Faculty of Law, Universidad Libre, Bogotá, Colombia. 2015–2017
Research Interests Expand entry
  • Reintegration of ex-combatants in Colombia
  • Effects of peace processes on indigenous peoples
  • Documentation, description, and preservation of indigenous languages
Languages Expand entry
  • English (native)
  • Spanish (fluent)
  • Indonesian (conversational)
  • Classical Greek and Latin (reading)
  • Kamsá, Gorontalo, Czech, German, Italian, Swahili, Fataluku, Miskitu, and Subanon (studied and/or researched)
Teaching Expand entry

At the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

  • Linguistics 102: An Introduction to the Study of Language
  • Classics 122: Greek and Roman Mythology
  • Greek and Latin Roots of English
Select Events (Lectures and Conferences) Expand entry
  • Language Endangerment and Revitalization in Colombia: New political challenges (2019). Paper presented at the Ninth Cambridge Conference on Language Endangerment. University of Cambridge. 02 July 2019
  • Transformation of the ETCRs: (Espacios Territoriales de Capacitación y Reincorporación) in Colombia and the implications for peace (2019). Paper presented at Colombian Days. Jena, Germany. 27–28 May 2019
  • Between Noun Class and Classifier: The case of Kamsá (2019). Paper present at Noun Categorization: From Grammar to Communicative Interaction. Lyon, France. 18–19 April 2019
  • In search of Practical Peacebuilding Strategies for a Changing Colombia (2019). Paper presented at the Society for Applied Anthropology Portland, OR, USA. 19–23 March 2019
  • Retos de reintegración de las FARC: una perspectiva del cine etnográfico (2018). Paper presented in: Entendiendo a los grupos excombatientes: Metodologías alternativas para la investigación del conflicto armado colombiano. Workshop held at: Lateinamerikanische Institut FU-Berlin. 19 December 2018
  • Speaker perceptions of language change: Contact and endangerment of Camsá (2017). Paper presented at the Seventh Cambridge Conference on Language Endangerment. University of Cambridge. 04 July 2017
  • The mysterious case of =em: Grammaticalization of a serial verb construction in Fataluku. with Yuko Otsuka (2017). Paper presented at APLL 9 (Austronesian and Papuan Languages and Linguistics Conference). Paris, France. June 2017
  • No to peace: Contextualizing the Colombian conflict (2017). Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology. Santa Fe, NM, USA. March 2017
  • Creating relevant curricula for endangered languages in Colombia (2016). Paper presented at the Sixth Cambridge Conference on Language Endangerment. University of Cambridge. July 6, 2016
  • At the crossroads of language death: Displacement, language loss, and identity in Colombia (2016). Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, Vancouver, BC, Canada. March 2016
  • What we say and what we mean: Technical and aesthetic considerations of street slang. With Bryan Page (2015). Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology. Pittsburgh, PA, USA. March 2015
Select Publications Expand entry
  • Assessing cost-effectiveness in reintegrating ex-combatants in Colombia (2020). Under review
  • Color salience, color term evolution, and the issue of relatedness. With Caleb Everett (2020). Evolang 13 Proceedings
  • Reintegration vs. Reincorporation: Is collective reincorporation possible in Colombia? (2020). Submitted
  • Conducting fieldwork with the FARC: Conversations about violence during a research project in Colombia (2019). Submitted
  • Cultural protection in Colombia: Reflections on indigenous data Sovereignty for understanding structural injustice in a context of war. With Gustavo Rojas-Páez (2020). Submitted
  • The challenges of Kamsá language revitalization in Colombia (2019). Chapter in: Rejecting marginalized status: Educational projects and curricula pushing back against language endangerment. Edited by Ari Sherris and Susan Penfield. Bristol: Multilingual Matters
Other Interests/Additional Information Expand entry
  • Ethnographic filmmaking