Donald Cole (anthropologist)

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For other people of the same name, see Donald Cole.
Donald Powell Cole (also known as AbdAllah-Talib Donald Cole)

Donald Powell Cole (March 21, 1941 in Bryan, Texas) is a noted anthropologist at the American University in Cairo.[1] He joined the university in 1971. He is a member of the American Anthropological Association. Cole has studied Arab nomadic cultures, such as the Al Murrah, in his The Social and Economic Structure of the Al Murrah: A Saudi Arabian Bedouin Tribe, his PhD dissertation at the University of California, Berkeley.

Cole, an American expat, currently resides in Cairo.[2][3][4]

Academic Positions[edit]

  • The American University in Cairo

Assistant Professor, 1971–73; 1974–75 Associate Professor, 1975–86 Professor, 1986 to 2007 Emeritus Professor, 2007 onward

  • University of California, Berkeley

Acting Assistant Professor, Spring Quarter 1971 Visiting Assistant Professor, 1973–74

  • The University of Chicago

Visiting Associate Professor, Winter and Spring Quarters 1976

  • University of Texas, Austin

Visiting Associate Professor, Spring Semester 1983, plus several summer sessions Visiting Scholar, Center for Middle East Studies, Spring Semester 1987

  • Georgetown University

Visiting Researcher, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Spring Semester 1995


Cole's most recent book: "Road to Islam: From Texas to Saudi Arabia and Egypt."
  • Road to Islām: From Texas to Saudi Arabia and Egypt / Donald Powell Cole. Cairo: Al-Madinah Press, 2010.
  • Bedouins of the Empty Quarter / Donald Powell Cole. New Jersey: Aldine Transaction, 2010. ISBN 978-0-202-36357-8
  • Bedouin, settlers, and holiday makers : Egypt's changing northwest cast / Donald P. Cole, Soraya Altorki. 1998. ISBN 977-424-484-2
  • Investors and Workers in the Western Desert of Egypt: An Exploratory Survey / Donald Powell Cole, Naiem A. Sherbiny and Nadia Makary Girgis. Cairo: Cairo Papers in Social Science, Volume 15, Monograph 3. 1992.
  • Arabian oasis city : the transformation of ʻUnayzah / Soraya Altorki and Donald P. Cole. Austin : University of Texas Press, 1989. ISBN 0-292-78517-8
  • Saudi Arabian Bedouin: An Assessment of their Needs / Donald Powell Cole and Saad Eddin Ibrahim. Cairo: Cairo Papers in Social Science, Volume 5, Monograph 1. 1978.
  • Nomads of the nomads : the Āl Murrah Bedouin of the Empty Quarter / Donald Powell Cole. 1975 ISBN 0-202-01117-8 (hardcover), ISBN 0-202-01118-6 (paperback)

Other Published works[edit]

  • 1971 “Al Murrah Bedouin: The ‘Pure Ones’ Rove Arabia’s Empty Sands.” In Nomads of the World, 52-71. Washington, DC: The National Geographic Society.
  • 1973 “Bedouin of the Oil Fields.” Natural History LXXXII(9):94-103.
  • 1973 “The Enmeshment of Nomads in Saudi Arabian Society: The Case of the Al Murrah.” In The Desert and the Sown: Nomads in the Wider Society, ed. Cynthia Nelson, 113-128. Berkeley: University of California, Institute of International Studies, Research Series, Number 21.
  • 1980 “Pastoral Nomads in a Rapidly Changing Economy: The Case of Saudi Arabia.” In Social and Economic Development in the Arab Gulf, ed. Timothy Niblock, 106-121. London: Croom Helm.
  • 1982 “Tribal and Non-Tribal Structures among the Bedouin of Saudi Arabia.” Al-Abhath XXX:77-94.
  • 1984 “Alliance and Descent in the Middle East and the ‘Problem’ of Patrilateral Parallel Cousin Marriage.” In Islam in Tribal Societies: From the Atlas to the Indus, eds. Akbar S. Ahmed and David M. Hart, 169-186. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
  • 1984 “Modern Egypt.” Discovery 8(3):8-12. (Robert A. Fernea, coauthor).
  • 1985 “The Bedouin in a Changing World.” Cairo Today 6(9):23-31.
  • 1990 “Mujtama’a ma qabl an-naft fi al-jazirah al-‘arabiyyah: fawdah qabiliyyah am mujtama’a muraqab.” Al-Mustaqbal al-‘arabi 11:41-53. (Soraya Altorki, coauthor).
  • 1992 “Was Arabia Tribal? A Reinterpretation of the Pre-Oil Society.” Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies XV(4):71-87.
  • 1993 “Commerce et production dans le nord de l’Aarabie centrale: changement et developpment a ‘Unayzah.” In Steppes d’Arabies: Etats, pasteurs, agriculture et commercants: le devinir des zones seches, eds. Riccardo Bocco, Ronald Jaubert, and Francoise Metral, 247-265. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France; Geneva: Cahiers de L’I.U.E.D. (Soraya Altorki, coauthor).
  • 1994 “Private Sector Enterprises in Desert Development in Egypt.” In Land Reclamation and Development in Egypt, ed. Mohammed Atif Kishk, 401-414. Minia: Minia University Press.
  • 1996 “Land Tenure, Bedouin, and Development in the Northwest Coast.” In Sustainable Development in Egypt: Current and Emerging Challenges, 108-110. Cairo: The American University in Cairo, Office of Graduate Studies and Research.
  • 1997 “Change in Saudi Arabia: A View from ‘Paris of Najd.’” In Arab Society: Class, Gender, Power and Development, eds. Nicholas S. Hopkins and Saad Eddin Ibrahim, 29-52. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press. (Soraya Altorki, coauthor).
  • 1997 “‘Unayzah, le ‘Paris du Najd’: le changement en Arabie saoudite.” Monde arabe: Maghreb-Machrek 156:3-22. (Soraya Altorki, coauthor).
  • 1998 “Guide to the MT09 Libyan Bedouin File.” HRAF Collection of Ethnography, Installment 47 (CD-ROM). New Haven: Human Relations Area Files.
  • 1998 “Agro-Pastoralism and Development in Egypt’s Northwest Coast.” In Directions of Change in Rural Egypt, eds. Nicholas S. Hopkins and Kirsten Westergaard, 318-333. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press. (Soraya Altorki, coauthor).
  • 1998 “The Northwest Coast: A Part of Rural Egypt?” In Directions of Change in Rural Egypt, eds. Nicholas S. Hopkins and Kirsten Westergaard, 130-143. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press. (Soraya Altorki, coauthor).
  • 1998 “Twenty Years of Desert Development in Egypt.” Cairo Papers in Social Science 21(4):44-54. (Soraya Altorki, coauthor).
  • 2000 “Production and Trade in North Central Arabia: Change and Development in ‘Unayzah.” In The Transformation of Nomadic Society in the Arab East, eds. Martha Mundy and Basim Musallam, 145-159. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 2001 “Saudi Arabia.” In Countries and their Cultures, eds. Melvin Ember and Carol R. Ember, 1927-1939. New York: Macmillan Reference
  • 2002 “Riyadh.” Encyclopedia of Urban Cultures, eds. Melvin Ember and Carol R. Ember, 4:38-45. Danbury, CT: Grolier.
  • 2003 “Where Have the Bedouin Gone?” Anthropological Quarterly 76(2):235-267.
  • 2005 “Al Murrah Tribes in the Days of King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz.”
  • 2006 “New Homes, New Occupations, New Pastoralism: Al Murrah Bedouin, 1968-2003.” In Nomadic Societies in the Middle East and North Africa: Entering the 21st Century, ed. Dawn Chatty, 370-392. Leiden and Boston: Brill.
  • 2006 “Land and Identity among Awlad ‘Ali Bedouin: Egypt’s Northwest Coast.” In Nomadic Societies in the Middle East and North Africa: Entering the 21st Century, ed. Dawn Chatty, 634-653. Leiden and Boston: Brill. (Soraya Altorki, coauthor).

Published Academic Interviews[edit]

  • 2000 Mark Allen Peterson. “The Long Walk II: ‘For as long as I can remember Anthropology has been reinventing itself’: An interview with Donald Powell Cole.” Nomadic Peoples 4(2):7-20.
  • 2002 Hussein Fahim. “Hadith anthrubulujiya maa duktur Donald Cole” [Anthropological discussion with Dr. Donald Cole]. Journal of the Social Sciences. Kuwait: Kuwait University, Fall 2002.


  1. ^ Faculty page at the American University in Cairo
  2. ^ Dickey, Christopher (December 26, 1985). "A romantic Middle East image dies as Datsuns replace camels". The Toronto Star. p. D.24. Retrieved 28 January 2010. 
  3. ^ Associated Press (October 6, 1997). "Crowded Egyptians would like to go with the flow". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Google News Archive). p. 7A. Retrieved 28 January 2010. 
  4. ^ Schneider, Howard (May 7, 2004). "In Breaking Taboos, Photos Add Insult to Injury". The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.). p. A.24. Retrieved 28 January 2010. "The idea is to humiliate people in ways . . . that really affect their manhood, their identity, their notions of shame," said Donald Cole, an anthropology ...