Dr. Kfir Cohen is a Senior Research Fellow and the Academic Director of the Borders and Sovereignty Cluster at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute since August 2017. Cohen completed his PhD in the Department of Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley in 2014 and held postdoctoral and teaching positions at UC Davis and UC Berkeley, respectively. Cohen’s dissertation advisers include Daniel Boyarin and Martin Jay. Fredric Jameson accompanied the project from its inception.
Cohen’s work advances an inquiry into the aesthetic and political significance of neoliberalism and globalization in Israel, Palestine, and France in the period between 1945 and the present. This inquiry engages critically with the fields of world literature, postcolonial studies, and post-Zionism, proposing a new relationship between literary and cinematic worlds and the juncture of state formation, nationalism, and capitalism. While working on this project, Cohen participated in the CASA program in the American University in Cairo in 2007–2008 and conducted research about Beur literature in France’s National Library in Paris in 2009–2010. His first book is entitled Signs of the Global: Israeli and Palestinian Literature in the Transition to Neoliberalism. The book is under contract with Verso and is being revised post-reader review. The book compares the development of the novel and the category of the Aesthetic in western Europe, Israel, and Palestine and critiques current theories of world literature as well as the historical and analytical categories of post-Zionist literary criticism. The book suggests a new conceptual and historical model, rooted in globalization, with which to understand the historical development of post-1940s Israeli and Palestinian literature as well as the contemporary system of world literature.
Cohen is currently revising his second book, entitled From Subalterns to Subjects: The Transformation of Mizrahi and Beur Literature in the Time of Globalization. Cohen’s work has appeared and is forthcoming in Novel, Telos, Interventions, French Cultural Studies, and Jump Cut, among others.