Dara Kay Cohen is a Ford Foundation Associate Professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Her research and teaching interests span the field of international relations, including international security, civil war and the dynamics of violence, and gender and conflict.
Her first book, Rape During Civil War (Cornell University Press, 2016), examines the variation in the use of rape during recent civil conflicts; the research for the book draws on extensive fieldwork in Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste and El Salvador. The book received the 2017 Theodore J. Lowi First Book Award from the American Political Science Association, the 2018 Best Book Awards from the International Security Studies Section (ISSS) and the Feminist Theory and Gender Studies (FTGS) Section of the International Studies Association, and was a finalist for the Woodrow Wilson Book Award of the American Political Science Association.
Cohen's second book, Lynching and Local Justice: The Political Economy of Legitimacy and Accountability in Weak States, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press (Cambridge Elements: Political Economy series.) The book, coauthored with Danielle Jung, draws on original survey and focus group data collected during fieldwork in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Her research has appeared or is forthcoming in the American Political Science Review, World Politics, Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, International Security, and Stanford Law Review, and has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the United States Institute of Peace, Folke Bernadotte Academy and the Peace Research Institute Oslo, among others.
Cohen is the recipient of the 2019 Emerging Scholar Award from the International Security Studies Section (ISSS) of the International Studies Association. In 2011, Cohen was awarded the American Political Science Association's Award for Best Dissertation in Women and Politics, and in 2014, Cohen received the Heinz I. Eulau Award for the best article published in the American Political Science Review in the previous year.
Cohen received her Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University and an A.B. in political science and philosophy from Brown University. Cohen served as a paralegal in the Outstanding Scholars Program in the Counterterrorism Section of the U.S. Department of Justice from 2001-2003. Prior to joining the Kennedy School, she was an assistant professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.