Kathleen O'Reilly


Kathleen O’Reilly studies the social and environmental impacts of development projects, especially those working toward improvements in health through gendered drinking water, sanitation, poverty interventions. Her research is based in India, where she has worked for the past 18 years. An NSF CAREER Award supports her current research into the causes and solutions to India’s rural sanitation crisis. It seeks insights into how village-scale and household-scale dynamics involving caste, class, and gender influence toilet usage and non-usage in rural India. Other recent work includes a study of successful sanitation in rural Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal that was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and research into urban poor women's experiences of psycho-social stress due to the absence of adequate sanitation in Pune and Jaipur, India. The latter project was funded by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and was a Sanitation and Hygiene Research for Equity (SHARE) initiative.

Selected Publications

  • Wutich, A., Budds, J., Eichelberger, L., Geere, J., Harris, L., Horney, J., Jepson, W., Norman, E., O’Reilly, K., Pearson, A., Shah, S., Shinn, J., Simpson, K., Staddon, C., Stoler, J., Teodoro, M., and S.L. Young. 2017. “Advancing methods for research on household water insecurity: Studying entitlements and capabilities, socio-cultural dynamics, and political processes, institutions and governance” Water Security 2: 1-10.
  • Jepson, W., Budds, J., Eichelberger, L., Harris, L., Norman, E., O’Reilly, K., Pearson, A., Shah, S., Shinn, J., Staddon, C., Stoler, J., Wutich, A., and S.L. Young. 2017. “Advancing Human Capabilities for Water Security: A Relational Approach.” Water Security 1: 46-52.
  • Kulkarni, S., O’Reilly, K., and S. Bhat. 2017. “Sanitation vulnerability: Women’s stress and struggles for violence-free sanitation.” Gender and Development 25(2): 167-183
  • O’Reilly, Kathleen, *Dhanju, R., and *E. Louis. 2017. “Subjected to Sanitation: Caste Relations and Sanitation Adoption in Rural Tamil Nadu.” The Journal of Development Studies 53(11): 1915-1928.
  • *Dhanju, R., and O’Reilly, K. 2017. “‘I know, I live here!’ Poor women and the work of empowerment.” Development in Practice 27(7): 940-951.
  • O’Reilly, K., and ‡Mitchell, S. 2017. “Bisexual politics and spaces: An on-campus discussion.” Women’s Studies: An International Journal 46(5): 495-505.
  • O’Reilly, K., *Dhanju, R., and *A. Goel. 2017. “Exploring ‘The Remote’ and ‘The Rural’: Open Defecation and Latrine Use in Uttarakhand, India.” World Development 93: 193-205.
  • Kulkarni, S., O’Reilly, K., and S. Bhat. 2017. Sanitation Vulnerability: Women’s stress and struggles for violence-free sanitation. Development & Change
  • O’Reilly, K. 2016. “From toilet insecurity to toilet security: Creating safe sanitation for women and girls.” WIREs Water 3: 19-24.
  • O'Reilly, K. and Louis, E. 2014. The Toilet Tripod: Understanding successful toilet adoption in rural India. Health & Place 29: 43-51.
  • O’Reilly, K. and R. Dhanju. 2014. Public taps and Private connections: neoliberal water governance and the re-production of caste distinction in north India. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 39(3): 373-386.
  • O’Reilly, K. and R. Dhanju. 2012. Hybrid drinking water governance: Community participation and ongoing neoliberal reforms in rural Rajasthan, India. Geoforum 43:623–633.
  • O’Reilly, K. 2010. “Combining sanitation and women’s empowerment in water supply: An example from Rajasthan.” Development in Practice 20(1): 45-56. 20th anniversary issue.
  • O’Reilly, K. 2006. “‘Traditional’ women, ‘modern’ water: Linking gender and commodification in Rajasthan, India.” Geoforum 37: 958-972.

Edited Book Chapters (In Press)

  • O’Reilly, K., and R. Dreibelbis. “Water and Sanitation, and Gender,” In Achieving Equality in Water and Sanitation Service Delivery. Oliver Cumming and Tom Slaymaker, eds. London: Routledge.


Ph.D. Geography, University of Iowa, 2002

M.S. Geography, University of Alabama, 1996

B.M. Voice Performance, Westminster Choir College, 1989


Distinguished Achievement Award for Faculty Teaching, College of Geosciences (2012)

Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence Award, Nominee, Graduate Student Council and College of Geosciences Nominee, Texas A&M University (2012)

Senior Short Term Fellowship ($10,000), ‘Drinking Water Sustainability’, American Institute of Indian Studies (2008)

Glassock Center Stipendiary Faculty Fellow ($1500), Texas A&M University Melburn G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research and Department of Geography (2007)

Additional Information

Current students

SouYeon Nam

Aaron Lira


  • Association of American Geographers
  • Rajasthan Studies Group
  • Society for Applied Anthropology

Graduate Director

Prospective students please email: grad-director@geog.tamu.edu

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