Ryan O'Byrne

Ryan O''Byrne Victoria University

A passion for backpack globe-trotting meant Ryan was something of a latecomer to tertiary education, starting at age 28. He was awarded a SYLFF fellowship in 2011 for anthropological research undertaken at Victoria University Wellington with refugee-background South Sudanese from the Acholi ethnic group living in the Greater Wellington region. His masterate highlighted the resettlement  difficulties faced by the Acholi people in New Zealand and how these experiences negatively affected their feelings of belonging.

This research then led Ryan to PhD study at University College London (UCL). Provisionally titled ‘A relationship with God and the Holy Spirit: The cultural logics of Pentecostal conversion in Pajok, South Sudan’, this PhD is an investigation into the hows, whys, and experiences of Pentecostal conversion among a small and predominantly Acholi community in South Sudan. With quite a bit of excitement, and a few nerves, Ryan and his wife are, at time of writing (June 2013), about to leave London for South Sudan. Pajok will be their home for the next 18 months as they live, work, and undertake ethnographic research.