The turns to pragmatism and practice theory in recent years are indicative of a fragmented discipline searching for the ends of International Relations theory. While diverse and contested, both bring forth conceptual language — habit, habitus, field, or practice — that promises to reorient the field on different grounds, with different implications for thinking about the vocation of International Relations. This article considers the contributions made possible by pragmatism in light of the turn to practices, outlining a “pragmatic International Relations” that is tasked with a political project: constituting the public in an age of global governance. It does so through a reading of Dewey that foregrounds his political commitments to democracy as a form of publicly inclusive inquiry. Rather than severing the normativity inscribed in Dewey’s social theory, this article demonstrates how his political values were productive of his theoretical practice. As such, we argue that Dewey does not dispense with metaphysics in order to attend to political problems, but, instead, locates metaphysics as constitutive of the political problem itself: democracy in the age of expertise.
The study of diaspora policies in political science, international relations, and political geography has moved away from conceiving diasporas as bounded entities to conceptualizing diasporas as a process to be made. One body of literature maps different strategies employed to bond diasporas to their country of origin, while another body of literature pays specific attention to diasporic identities and the ways such identities are reproduced and constructed abroad. This article seeks to bring these two literatures together by focusing on homeland tourism as a diasporization strategy, i.e. the construction, reproduction, and transmission of diasporic identity. Through the case of Taglit-Birthright – a free educational trip to Israel offered to young Jewish adults – the article identifies the specific mechanisms and micro-practices used in order to transform Israeli territory into a Jewish homeland, reproduce the narrative of dispersion, and demarcate group boundaries. Incorporating insights from theories of territorialization and based on the program's educational platform and existing ethnographies of Taglit-Birthright, this article unpacks the notion of the homeland and demonstrates how the homeland itself – as an embodied, affective, and symbolic site – is strategically used in order to cultivate diasporic attachments.
Securing the diasporic ‘Self’ by travelling abroad: Taglit-Birthright and ontological security
In recent years, the literature on diaspora politics has focused primarily on why and when migrant or ethno-religious groups adopt a diasporic stance and mobilise on behalf of their homeland. The ability of a community to sustain a diasporic stance across generations is less explored and often assumed to be dependent on discrimination in the host country or events in the homeland. By contrast, this article focuses on internal dynamics of the Jewish-American community to explore the development of Taglit-Birthright – a free educational trip to Israel offered to young Jewish adults. Drawing on the concept of ontological security – security of identity and subjectivity – I argue that the decision to invest in such a costly and experimental programme was the result of two perceived threats to Jewish diasporic identity: the threat to the diasporic narrative and the threat to the relationship with the homeland. Evidence for this claim is generated through interpretation of internal documents, media reports, and secondary literature.