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David William Cohen

Professor Emeritus

Office Location(s): 1029 Tisch Hall
dwcohen@umich.edu

  • Affiliation(s)
    • Anthropology
  • About

    Selected Publications:

    David William Cohen and E. S. Atieno Odhiambo, The Risks of Knowledge: Investigations into the Death of the Hon. Minister John Robert Ouko in Kenya, 1990 (Ohio University Press, December 2004)

    An inquiry into how facts are created and knowledge produced, The Risks of Knowledge pursues a ghastly murder into the normally unseen worlds of international business wheeling and dealing, into the rural "squireocracy" of western Kenya, and into the bureaucratic routines of Kenya's government. In this, their third coauthored study of Kenya, the authors show how these unfinished investigations are about much more than the solution to the murder of a distinguished Kenyan statesman and world citizen.

    Responsibility in Crisis: Knowledge Politics and Global Publics (Ann Arbor: Scholarly Publishing Office, University of Michigan Library, 2004), edited with introduction, with Michael D. Kennedy.

    What are the responsibilities of intellectuals and their institutions before a world in the midst of apparently profound change?

    The violence of September 11, 2001 and its aftermath suggest the potential for a world transformed. But the nature and extent of such transformation are not self-evident. Location in the world, and varying association with social, economic, political and cultural forces, shape how these transformations will be anticipated, understood, and addressed. With the challenges of differing location and identification, and with a sense of the enormous weight of these projected transformations, the responsibilities of intellectuals and of diverse institutions of knowledge production are tested in new and significant ways.

    With these challenges as our leading concerns, we invited prominent public intellectuals from across the world to join faculty and students associated with the University of Michigan International Institute in an extended seminar in August 2002 to consider the necessary, if discomforting questions, that might define a public university aspiring not only to have global reach, but to be in, of, and with the world beyond this nation. We consider this volume to be an extension of that conversation. Moreover, it is an invitation to others to consider the nature of the space that enables intellectual responsibility to be realized and the qualities of knowledge that enable the work of scholarship to be consequential.

    David William Cohen, Womunafu's Bunafu: A Study of Authority in a Nineteenth-Century African Community (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977). Republished as an ACLS e-book in 2005. 

    The second number of the revived journal passages, which he founded in 1991 and has now reappeared, via the Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library. passages ns2 is coedited by Cohen and Vanessa Noble, finishing UM PhD student. Click here to be directed to the journal passages

  • Education
    • Ph.D. University of London, 1970
  • Research Areas of Interest
    • Pre-colonial and 20th century African, Eastern and Southern Africa
    • historical anthropology
    • the production of history