Introducing Guest Newsletter Essayist, Uriel Abulof

Uriel Abulof is associate professor of politics at Tel Aviv University and senior research fellow at Princeton University’s Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination / Woodrow Wilson School. He received his PhD in International Relations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and was subsequently a Fulbright Scholar and lecturer at NYU and Princeton University. He studies political legitimation and violence, focusing on nationalism, revolutions and ethnic conflicts in, and beyond, the Middle East. His main research project is "political existentialism."

Recent Book by Uriel Abulof
The Mortality and Morality of Nations
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (July 24, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 110709707X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107097070

Book Description

Standing at the edge of life's abyss, we seek meaningful order. We commonly find this 'symbolic immortality' in religion, civilization, state and nation. What happens, however, when the nation itself appears mortal? The Mortality and Morality of Nations seeks to answer this question. It argues that mortality makes morality; the nation's sense of a looming abyss informs its quest for a higher moral ground, which, if reached, can bolster its vitality. The book investigates nationalism's promise of moral immortality and its limitations via three case studies: French Canadians, Israeli Jews, and Afrikaners. All three have been insecure about the validity of their identity or the viability of their polity, or both. They have sought partial redress in existential self-legitimation: by the nation, of the nation and for the nation's very existence.


"Uriel Abulof offers a fascinating exploration of the existential challenges faced by what Milan Kundera has dubbed 'small nations'—ethnonational communities that experience a profound sense of collective fragility. Theoretically ambitious and empirically rich, this lucidly written study makes a unique contribution to our knowledge of politics, morality and security." 
     —Matthew Evangelista, author of Gender, Nationalism, and War: Conflict on the Movie Screen (Cambridge, 2011)

"In this highly original and fascinating book, Uriel Abulof draws attention to the role of ethnic groups and nations as subjects of the human quest for enduring meaning, sense of identity, and moral purpose that transcend transient individual existence. His subtle and elegant discussion of three cases—the French Canadians, Israeli Jews and Afrikaners—reveals the distinct and changing identity-defining frames and ethical discourses that each of these communities has evolved in its struggle to legitimize and self-justify its place in the world." 
     —Azar Gat, author of Nations: The Long History and Deep Roots of Political Ethnicity and Nationalism (2013)

Video: New Perspectives on Self-Determination, Sovereignty and the State
Uriel Abulof discusses the role of self-determination in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination (LISD) 10th Anniversary Colloquium at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School.