Juan Cole was born in October 1952 as "John Ricardo Cole" to a military family; from the beginning, his family called him "Juan." His father was stationed in Albuquerque, NM at the time of Cole's birth. In addition to this and other USA locations, Cole's father did two long tours in France (a total of seven years) and one 18-month stay at Kagnew Station in Asmara, Eritrea (then Ethiopia).
Cole reports that he first became interested in Islam in Eritrea, which has a population roughly half Christian and half Muslim. After completing an undergraduate degree at Northwestern University (see below), Cole pursued Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at the American University in Cairo and the University of California Los Angeles, and ultimately joined the faculty at the University of Michigan.
Cole married the former Shahin Malik in Lahore in 1982. The couple have one son, Arman, born in 1987 Cole became a member of the Baha'i Faith in 1972 as an undergraduate at Northwestern, and the Baha'i religion later became a focus of his academic career. Cole officially separated himself from the religion in 1996 after disputes with Baha'i leadership concerning the Baha'i system of administration.
Cole has personal and professional experience in the Middle East and South Asia having lived for six years in the Arab world, and another two and a half in South Asia. He worked as a newspaper reporter in Beirut, Lebanon in the late 1970s and lived in Cairo, Egypt.
He has continued to visit the region in the past 15 years, as stated in his blog, in order to keep in touch with the "pulse of opinion and changing local views." Cole is fluent in modern standard and colloquial Arabic, Urdu and Persian, and has a command of Turkish.
He was awarded Fulbright-Hays fellowships to India (1982) and to Egypt (1985-1986).
From 1999 until 2004, Juan Cole was the editor of The International Journal of Middle East Studies. He has served in professional offices for the American Institute of Iranian Studies. He was elected president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America in November 2004. In 2006 Cole was nominated to teach at Yale University and was approved by Yale's sociology and history departments; however, the senior appointments committee overruled the nomination.Cole continues to teach at the University of Michigan.
He blogs at www.juancole.com
* 1975 B.A. History and Literature of Religions, Northwestern University.
* 1978 M.A. Arabic Studies/History, American University in Cairo
* 1984 Ph.D. Islamic Studies, University of California Los Angeles
* 1984-1990 Assistant Professor of History, University of Michigan
* 1990-1995 Associate Professor of History, University of Michigan
* 1992-1995 Director, Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, University of Michigan
* 1995- Professor of History, University of Michigan