Biehl Professor of International Studies, Chair of Anthropology
B.A., The College of William and Mary; M.A., Ph.D., Cornell University


Richard O’Connor graduated from William & Mary and earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell. His research began with fieldwork in Bangkok, expanded to Southeast Asia, and for the last decade has focused on anorexia in the U.S. and Canada. As a teacher he enjoys connecting anthropology to students’ everyday experiences.

The former Director of Sewanee’s Center for Teaching, O’Connor has done research on campus religious ethos and undergraduate learning. Together with Penny Van Esterik of York University, Canada, he is completing one book on anorexia nervosa and another on breastfeeding as a bio-cultural activity. He is a recipient of Fulbright, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Social Science Research Council awards and has held post-doctoral positions at Kyoto University, Japan, and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore.

‌‌‌From Virtue to Vice book coverMy colleague, Penny Van Esterik, and I have recently had our manuscript, From Virtue to Vice: Negotiating Anorexia accepted by Berghahn for their Food, Culture and Nutrition series.  It is scheduled to come out in March 2015.  For more information on purchasing a copy click here.    We are currently writing a second volume that applies the same bicultural approach to breastfeeding. ‌ Its tentative title is The Dance of Nurture: Embodying Infant Feeding. Our initial findings are presented in "Breastfeeding as Custom not Culture:  Cutting Meaning Down to Size," published in Anthropology Today in 2012.