Adi Livny

Israeli political history and sociology, comparative history and the history of ideas.

I am currently a PhD student in the department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I completed my Master’s degree (2013) in the department of Political Science at the Hebrew University, during which I also studied at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg in Germany.

My research interests combine Israeli political history and sociology of Mandatory Palestine and the state of Israel in its early decades, as well as comparative and institutional history. I am interested in particular in the forms in which ethos or ideology are translated into practices and policy.

My Master’s Thesis, “Conscientious Objection and the State: between Confrontation and Recognition,” written under the guidance of Prof. Yfaat Weiss and Dr. Iddo Nevo, examined how three states with mandatory conscription – Israel, The Federal Republic of Germany and Switzerland, dealt with the policy challenge raised by conscientious objectors to military service in the course of the second half of the twentieth century. I argued that the treatment of COs reflects the political culture and the position of the army in each of these states rather than their objective security concerns.

Current Project

My dissertation project (written under the supervision of Prof. Yfaat Weiss) touches on the gap between ideology and policy in a different institute and at a different time: it is dedicated to a history of the Hebrew University in Mandatory Palestine. While previous studies tended to focus on the academic and internal-institutional aspects of the university’s development, my current project examines the university’s non-academic influences and dynamics, its actual footprint in the form of policies and practices. Spatial aspects carry a special weight in this research. Accordingly, the university’s activities are examined in affinity with various spaces and their corresponding spheres of influence: those include the urban space of Jerusalem, the Middle Eastern context more broadly, and the British-Imperial space.

More broadly, my dissertation deals with the place of universities in national conflicts, and as agents of settlement and colonization.

I also serve as the academic coordinator of the international project The Historical Archive of the Hebrew University: German-Jewish Knowledge and Cultural Transfer, 1918-1948, which combines systematic cataloguing and preservation of the archive with research based on its materials.

Selected Publications

“A History of Troubles: The Historical Archive of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem”, in: Elisabeth Gallas/Caroline Jessen/Anna Holzer-Kawałko/Yfaat Weiss (eds.), Contested German Jewish Cultural Property after 1945. The Sacred and the Profane (forthcoming 2018).

“Conscientious Objection and the State: Contextualizing the Israeli Case.” Armed Forces & Society (2017): 0095327X17743988.‏

Raketengetrieben: Wie die post-israelische Generation um ihr Leben kämpft, Kursbuch 181 (March 2015): 117-130.