Malachi H. Hacohen

Malachi H. Hacohen

Professor of History

External address: 
210 Classroom Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Dept of History, Box 90719, Durham, NC 27708-0719
(919) 684-3014

MALACHI HAIM HACOHEN (Ph.D., Columbia), Bass Fellow and Professor of History, Political Science and Religion, is Director of the Religions and Public Life Initiative at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, and member of the faculties of Slavic and Eurasian, German and Jewish Studies. He teaches intellectual history and Jewish European history. He previously taught at Columbia University, New York University, and Reed College. His research interests focus on Central Europe and include social theory, political philosophy, and rabbinic culture – Midrash to Kabbalah to halakhic responsa. Hacohen writes on the Central European Jewish intelligentsia, on nation state vs. empire in Jewish European history, and on Jewish–Christian relations. He has paid special attention to science and culture in Vienna, to the international networks of European Jewish émigrés, and to trans-Atlantic Cold War liberalism. His Jewish European history is both traditionally Jewish and cosmopolitan European.

Hacohen's Karl Popper - The Formative Years, 1902-1945 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000) has won the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize of the AHA and the Victor Adler- Staatspreis (Austrian state-prize). He has published essays in the leading journals of European and Jewish history and in several important collections. His Jacob & Esau: Jewish European History Between Nation and Empire is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press in June 2018. Jacob & Esau is a profound new account of two millennia of Jewish European history which, for the first time, integrates the cosmopolitan narrative of the Jewish intelligentsia with that of traditional Jews and Jewish culture. The book uses the biblical story of the rival twins, Jacob and Esau, and its subsequent retelling by Christians and Jews through the ages as lens through which to illuminate changing Jewish–Christian relations and the opening and closing of opportunities for Jewish life in Europe. Jacob & Esau tells a new history of a people accustomed for over two-and-a-half millennia to forming relationships, real and imagined, with successive empires but eagerly adapting, in modernity, to the nation-state, and experimenting with both assimilation and Jewish nationalism. In rewriting this history via Jacob and Esau, the book charts two divergent but intersecting Jewish histories that together represent the plurality of Jewish European cultures.

Hacohen has been a recipient of the Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship from the ACLS, as well as of Fulbright, Mellon, and Whiting fellowships and a number of teaching awards. He was a fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies in 2016-17, the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto in 2006-07, the National Humanities Center in 2002-03, and the IFK (Internationales Forschungszentrum  Kulturwissenschaften) in Vienna in 2001. He is a coordinator of the Triangle Intellectual History Seminar (Duke, NCSU, UNC, and Wake Forest University) and the North Carolina Jewish Studies Seminar. He has served on the editorial board of several professional journals, as well as on the international board of the House of History – Austria, the Vienna International Summer University, the IFK, and the Adler and Vogelsang Austrian State Prize jury. Most recently, he has led an international research initiative on Empire, Socialism and Jews, with a series of conferences in Vienna and Duke University.

Malachi Haim Hacohen
Bass Fellow and Professor 
History, Political Science, and Religion
Director, Religions & Public Life
The Kenan Institute
Duke University


  • Ph.D., Columbia University 1993
  • M.Phil., Columbia University 1983
  • M.A., Columbia University 1982
  • B.A., Bar Ilan University (Israel) 1979

Hacohen, M. H. Karl Popper in Esilio. Edited by Rubbettino Editore. Biblioteca Austriaca, 1999.

Hacohen, M. H. “The young popper as a scholarly field: A comment on dahms, hansen, and ter hark.” In Karl Popper: A Centenary Assessment, 1:99–110, 2019.

Hacohen, M. H. “Karl Popper, the open society, and the cosmopolitan democratic empire.” In The Impact of Critical Rationalism: Expanding the Popperian Legacy through the Works of Ian C. Jarvie, 189–205, 2018. Full Text

Hacohen, M. H. “Jacob & Esau Today: The End of a Two Millennia Paradigm?” In Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science, 325:167–90, 2017. Full Text

Hacohen, M. H. “The Liberal Critique of Political Theology: Political Messianism and the Cold War.” In Die Helle Und Die Dunkle Seite Der Moderne, edited by M. H. Werner Michael Schwarz and Ingo Zechner, 38–50. Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2014.

Hacohen, M. H. “Karl Popper and the Liberal Imagination: Rationality in Science and Politics.” In I Limiti Della Razionalità, edited by M. H. M. Del Castello and Michael Segre, 111–32. Carabba, 2013.

Hacohen, M. H. “Congress for Cultural Freedom.” In Encyclopedia of Jewish History and Culture, edited by Dan Diner, 2:22–28. J. B. Metzler’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 2012.

Hacohen, M. H. “Cosmopolitanism, the European Nation State, and Jewish Life: Berlin and Popper.” In Karl Popper Oggi: Una Riflessione Multidisciplinare, edited by M. H. Andrea Borghini and Stefano Gattei, 135–60. Livorno: Salomone Belforte, 2011.

Hacohen, M. H. “From Forvm to Neues Forvm: The ‘Congress for Cultural Freedom,’ the 68ers and the Émigrés.” In Das Jahr 1968 – Ereignis, Symbol, Chiffre, edited by Oliver Rathkolb and Friedrich Stadler, 239–74. Vienna University Press, 2010.

Hacohen, M. H. “Kosmopoliten in einer ethnonationalen Zeit? Juden und Österreicher in der 1. Republik.” In Das Werden Der Republik: Österreich 1918-1920, edited by Helmut Konrad and Wolfgang Maderthaner. Gerold, 2008.


Hacohen, M. H. “The University and the Talmud.” Annali Di Storia Delle Universita Italiane 24, no. 1 (June 1, 2020): 49–61. Full Text

Hacohen, M. “Nation and empire in modernjewish European history.” Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook 62 (January 1, 2017): 53–65. Full Text

Hacohen, M. H. “Berlin and Popper Between Nation and Empire: Diaspora, Cosmopolitanism, and Jewish Life.” Jewish Historical Studies 44 (2012): 51–74.

Hacohen, M. H. “The culture of Viennese science and the riddle of Austrian liberalism.” Modern Intellectual History 6, no. 2 (August 1, 2009): 369–96. Full Text

Hacohen, M. H. “Eugene R. Sheppard, Leo Strauss and the Politics of Exile: The Making of a Political Philosopher.” Studies in Contemporary Jewry 24 (2009).


Selected Grants

Human Rights: The Historical Formation of a Research Field awarded by Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2012

Fellowships, Supported Research, & Other Grants

Polonsky Fellow awarded by Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (2016 to 2017)

Fellow awarded by Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences (2006 to 2008)