Dr Nir Arielli

Associate Professor of International History
Director of International History and Politics

0113 34 30227

Summary: Associate Professor of International History

 Research interests

• Transnational war volunteers
• The Arab-Israeli conflict
• International relations in Europe and the Middle East, 1919-1939
• Colonial troops
• Environmental Security 
• Fascist Italy

Current Research Projects

Cross-Border Foreign Fighters: In recent years the global media has become fascinated with foreign volunteers who cross continents to fight in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Men and women who travel from Europe to join the forces of the Islamic State attract particular attention. Less sensationalist, but numerically and militarily far more important, are fighters from neighbouring countries.

The project examines a number of historical and contemporary cases of cross-border foreign fighters. It questions the importance of state borders as a barrier to voluntary transnational military service. State borders often cut across national, ethnic, religious and cultural groups. While modern states aspire for a Weberian monopoly over the use of force within their borders, the phenomenon of cross-border fighters persists.

Principal publications


From Byron to bin Laden: A History of Foreign War Volunteers (Harvard University Press, 2018)

Nir arielli book

Nir Arielli and Bruce Collins (eds), Transnational Soldiers: Foreign Military Enlistment in the Modern Era (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)

Fascist Italy and the Middle East, 1933-40 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)

Articles and book chapters

‘Recognition, immigration and divergent expectations: the reception of foreign volunteers in Israel during and after the wars of 1948 and 1967’, Journal of Modern European History, 14, 3 (2016), pp. 374-390.

Nir Arielli, Gabriela Frei and Inge Van Hulle, 'The Foreign Enlistment Act, international law and British politics, 1819-2014', International History Review, 38, 3 (2016), pp. 636-656.

'Colonial soldiers in Italian counter-insurgency operations in Libya, 1922-32', British Journal for Military History, 1, no. 2 (2015), pp. 47-66.

‘When are foreign volunteers useful? Israel’s transnational soldiers in the War of 1948 re-examined’, The Journal of Military History, 78, no. 2 (2014), pp. 703-24.

‘Hopes and Jealousies: Rome’s Ambitions in the Middle East and the Italian Contingent in Palestine, 1915 – 1920’, in Yigal Sheffy, Haim Goren and Eran Dolev (eds), Palestine and World War I: Grand Strategy, Military Tactics and Culture in War (I.B. Tauris, 2014), pp. 43-56.

‘In search of meaning: foreign volunteers in the Croatian armed forces, 1991-95’, Contemporary European History, 21, no. 1 (2012), pp. 1-17.

‘Induced to volunteer? The predicament of Jewish Communists in Palestine and the Spanish Civil War’, Journal of Contemporary History, 46, no. 4 (2011), pp. 854-70.

‘“Haifa is still burning”: Italian, German and French air raids on Palestine during the Second World War’, Middle Eastern Studies, 46, no. 3 (2010), pp. 331-47.

‘Italian involvement in the Arab Revolt in Palestine, 1936-39’, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 35, no. 2 (2008), pp. 187-204.

Postgraduate Supervision

I would welcome enquiries from prospective postgraduate students who wish to work on topics that broadly coincide with my research interests.

My current postgraduate students include:

Ruth Atack: national-religious trends in Israeli society and their potential implications for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict
Daut Dauti: British policy and the Albanian question, 1876 – 1914
Jethro Norman: Footprints on the neoliberal frontier: PMSCs and resource extraction
Jacopo Pili: Great Britain as seen by Fascist Italy