Karen O'Brien-Kop

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Hindu and Buddhist philosophy of religion; philosophy of mind; meditation, asceticism, and yoga; global philosophy of religion; religion, race and decolonisation; theory and method in the study of religion; religion and literature; transnational religion.


Research activity per year

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Personal profile


BA (Warwick); MA (Queen's Canada); MA (SOAS); PhD (SOAS)

Dr Karen O'Brien-Kop is Lecturer in Asian Religions and Ethics at the University of Roehampton. She researches early South and Central Asian Sanskrit texts and culture on meditation, philosophy of mind, and mind-body practices – in particular exploring the interconnections of Hinduism and Buddhism. More broadly, her research interests are Indian religion and philosophy, theory and method in the study of religion, global philosophies, critical theory, decolonial thought and literary studies.

She has published a monograph, ‘Rethinking “Classical Yoga”: Meditation, Metaphors and Materiality’ (Bloomsbury 2021) and co-edited The Routledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation Studies (Routledge 2020) with Dr Suzanne Newcombe. She has published in various journals, including Journal of Indian Philosophy. Her PhD was undertaken at SOAS University of London, where she previously worked as a Senior Teaching Fellow. Karen is co-chair of the Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions and the Indian and Chinese Religions Research Unit at the American Academy of Religion. She has recently joined the journal Religions of South Asia (Equinox Publishing) as a co-editor.

Current research project 2020-2022 funded by The Southlands Methodist Trust: Phiroz Mehta: A Social History of an Indian Philosopher in South London, 1970s-1980s, and his Impact on the Development of Yoga and Meditation in Britain

PhD Supervision:

Jared Jones: 'Being and Emptiness: A Tibetan Gelug Dialogical Response to Major Themes in Euro-American Ontology' (Working title) [Primary Supervisor]

Victoria Oladipupo: 'African Pentecostalism and Gender: An Analysis of the Transnational Role of Women in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (Lagos and Nigeria)' [Co-Supervisor]


Currently teaching 2021-2022:

Transforming Cultures: Ecology / Gender / Politics (BA)

The Study of Religion (BA)

Yoga, Meditation and Health (BA)

Contemporary Issues in Global Religions (BA)

Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion (MA)

Religions in Dialogue and Conflict (MA)

Research Methods (MA)


Previously taught 2016-2020:

Indian Philosophy and Religion (BA)

Contemporary Issues in Hinduism (BA)

Modern Indian Philosophy (BA)

Religions of Ancient India (MA)

Traditions of Yoga in Ancient India (MA)

External positions

Co-Editor, Religions of South Asia Journal (Equinox Publishing)

1 Mar 2022 → …

Area Editor, Hinduism, Oxford Bibliographies, Oxford Bibliographies

1 Mar 2021 → …

Co-Convenor, Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions

1 Jun 2020 → …

Co-Chair, American Academy of Religion: Indian and Chinese Religions Compared unit

Feb 2020 → …

Steering Committee Member, American Academy of Religion: Yoga in Theory and Practice unit

Jan 2019 → …

Advisory Committee, SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies

1 Oct 20181 Jun 2020