Securing sovereignty from abroad: Constructing diaspora as a security solution
My book project examines variation in the stances adopted by economically developed states vis-à-vis those members of the nation who reside abroad, co-citizens or co-nationals. Current literature on nation-building and migration politics focuses on how states treat minorities and migrants within their territories. In contrast, I ask what factors explain the policies of states vis-à-vis those members of the nation who reside abroad. I develop a theoretical model that distinguishes between territorial and extra-territorial nation-building and argue that states design their policies toward the nation abroad based on foreign policy and security considerations. Through a within-case comparison of Israel and Turkey and drawing on extensive archival research, in-depth elite interviews, and discourse analysis of varied sources, I find that security threats framed in terms of territorial integrity motivate states to ignore their co-nationals abroad or invest in their return. However, threats framed in terms identity and legitimacy motivate states to invest in nation-building abroad.
This project, thus, identifies how threat perceptions of state elites motivate them to refashion the relationship between the state and the nation. Whereas conventional wisdom claims that states respond to globalizing pressures by reinforcing territorial borders, I show that state elites simultaneously promote a de-territorialized imagination of the nation as a new source of legitimacy. Methodologically, the project offers a systematic examination of Israel’s and Turkey’s security discourses. Rather than deductively assume security concerns based on geopolitical conditions, I analyze primary sources in Hebrew and Turkish to inductively trace how political elites identify security threats and respond through policy choices.