Book Talk: The Mortality and Morality of Nations

Event Date: 
Monday, October 10, 2016
Event Time: 
12:00 p.m.
Location: 
023 Robertson Hall

The Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination will host a lunch seminar on Monday, October 10, 2016, at 12:00 p.m. in 023 Robertson Hall, featuring former LISD visiting fellow, Uriel Abulof, who will be discussing his book, The Mortality and Morality of Nations. Professor Mark Beissinger (PIIRS, Politics Department) and Professor Daniel Kurtzer (Woodrow Wilson School) will provide comment. The lunch is open to Princeton University faculty and students only. To attend, RSVP to Angella Matheney

As observed by the author, 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, theoretically and empirically. It argues that mortality makes morality, and right makes might; 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 is currently an associate professor of politics at Tel-Aviv University and a non-resident associate with LISD. He received his PhD in International Relations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and was subsequently a Fulbright Scholar and a lecturer at NYU and Princeton University. Abulof studies and has published extensively on political legitimation and violence, focusing on nationalism, democratization, revolutions and ethnic conflicts in, and beyond, the Middle East. Abulof's first book, Living on the Edge: The Existential Uncertainty of Zionism (Haifa University Press) received Israel’s best academic book award (Bahat Prize), and he recently published his second book, The Mortality and Morality of Nations (Cambridge University Press, 2015)Abulof is also the co-editor of Self-Determination in the 21st Century (Routledge, 2016).