Bernard Cohn (anthropologist)

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Bernard S. Cohn (1928 – 2003) was an anthropologist and scholar of British colonialism in India, primarily affiliated with the University of Chicago. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Cohn received a B.A. in history from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1949 and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Cornell University in 1954. From 1952-3 he engaged in field research in India as a Fulbright scholar. In addition to Chicago, he also taught at the University of Rochester and was a research assistant for the US Army at Fort Benning. In 1968, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Cohn's seminal contributions included work on India's caste system, by which he established that caste was solidified as a concept by the British codification of it, as well as the establishment of historical anthropology as a means to link the disciplines of anthropology and history. Cohn's works include Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge (1996), An Anthropologist Among the Historians (1987) and India: The Social Anthropology of a Civilization (1971). His students, including Nicholas Dirks and Ronald Inden, have continued in the vein of his work.

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