IEAS Director

Kevin O'Brien

Kevin O'Brien

Kevin O'Brien, Director

Kevin O'Brien is the Walter and Elise Haas Chair Professor in Asian Studies and the Alann P. Bedford Professor of Asian Studies and Professor of Political Science. His interests include Social Movements, Comparative Legislatures, Local Elections, and Political Reform. He has served as Director of the Institute of East Asian Studies since July 2013.

A student of Chinese politics in the reform era, Professor O'Brien has written articles on topics such as legislative politics, local elections, fieldwork strategies, popular protest, policy implementation, and village-level political reform. He is the author of Reform Without Liberalization: China's National People's Congress and the Politics of Institutional Change (Cambridge, 1990, paperback, 2008) and the co-author of Rightful Resistance in Rural China (Cambridge, 2006). He is the co-editor of Engaging the Law in China: State, Society and Possibilities for Justice (Stanford, 2005, paperback 2010) and Grassroots Elections in China (Routledge, 2011), and the editor of Popular Protest in China (Harvard, 2008). His most recent work centers on the Chinese state and theories of popular contention, particularly as concerns "soft repression" and the policing of protest.

Prior to being named director of the Institute of East Asian Studies, Professor O'Brien chaired the Center for Chinese Studies from 2005 to 2008. He has won various grants and awards and serves on the editorial or advisory board of numerous journals, including China Journal, China Quarterly, Comparative Politics, Journal of Agricultural Change, Journal of Contemporary China, Issues and Studies, Asian Survey, Journal of Chinese Political Science, Rural China/Zhongguo Xiangcun Yanjiu, and World Politics (1999-2007). He also served on the Board of Directors of the National Committee on US-China Relations, from 1998 to 2001 and from 2002 to 2005.