David Keen is a political economist and Professor of Complex Emergencies at the London School of Economics, where he has worked since the 1990s. He was educated at Cambridge and Oxford in economics and anthropology, and was formerly a consultant for NGOS and development agencies, and a journalist.
Keen has emerged as one of the major theorists of contemporary conflict, notably in African society. His work is based on extensive fieldwork in Sudan, Sierra Leone and Iraq, and archival research.
In Endless War and in several articles he has argued that "winning war is rarely an end in itself; rather, war tends to be part of a wider political and economic game that is consistent with strengthening the enemy". The "war on terror" is, for Keen, an extension of the Cold War.
The Benefits of Famine explored how the 1980s famines in Sudan were of use to certain groups. Famines have powerful beneficiaries including political elites and traders. International intervention "may offer significant political and bureaucratic benefits for international donors".
Keen. D. 2007. Complex Emergencies. Bristol: Polity.
Keen, D. 2006. Endless War? Hidden Functions of the 'War on Terror'. Pluto Press.
Keen, D. 2005. Conflict and Collusion in Sierra Leone. James Currey/Palgrave.
Keen, D. 1998. The Economic Functions of Violence in Civil Wars. Adelphi Adelphi Papers, No 320. Routledge.