Securitization theory has paid extensive attention to transnational issues, actors, and processes. Surprisingly, however, only little attention has been paid to the securitization of diaspora communities, defined as overseas citizens or co-nationals abroad. This article fills this gap by developing an analytical framework to study the securitization of diasporas, focusing on three discursive formations: diasporas as threatening actors, as objects under threat, or as security resources. Building upon the recent literature on state–diaspora engagement and drawing on an analysis of Israeli elite discourse (from 1948 to 2022), this article demonstrates how the securitization of diasporas serves as a discursive mechanism that naturalizes and legitimizes extra-territorial policies towards Jews abroad. Thus, the article complements structural and rational explanations of state–diaspora engagement by examining the intersubjective process that endows diaspora policymaking with meaning. Against the backdrop of extensive securitization scholarship that focuses on attempts to keep “foreigners” out, this article shows how securitization justifies bringing certain people in or governing their national identity abroad.
The servant of many masters: The multiple commitments of state-agents
(with Gadi Heimann and Zohar Kampf)
Personal commitments are a ubiquitous but undertheorized phenomenon in the everyday wheels of world politics. While resonating with multiple threads in international relations theory, the role of individuals’ commitments in statecraft, diplomacy, and foreign policy has hardly been addressed in and of itself. Drawing on insights from symbolic interactionism and organizational psychology, this article conceptualizes the notion of commitment highlighting its omnipresence in foreign policy and diplomatic practice. Specifically, the article demonstrates the analytical cache of the notion of commitment by focusing on moments when state-agents deviated from their commitment to the national interest, acting on behalf of other foci of commitment. Relying on Israeli, French, and EU diplomatic archives, we examine three illustrative case studies that show how and why state-agents dedicate time, energy, and resources to advance interests other than those of the state.
The nexus between transnational mobilization and Science and Technology Studies (STS) offers a productive platform for studying the formation of scientific activism, the influence of mobilization on scientific developments, and the ways science is used to achieve government goals. Integrating concepts from both sets of literature – particularly national sociotechnical imaginaries and socio-spatial positionality – this article explores how Dr Chaim Weizmann, a prominent chemist and a Zionist leader, attempted to construct and mobilize a ‘scientific diaspora’. Empirically, the article draws on new archival evidence, revealing the hitherto unknown early efforts of the Zionist movement to acquire nuclear reactor and utilize the Jewish involvement in the American nuclear project for political leverage abroad. Theoretically, rather than beginning the analysis with a scientific-diasporic network that was ready to be mobilized, we trace the selective and tailored practices employed by Weizmann to animate the Jewish connection among nuclear scientists and professionals.
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.
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.
A pragmatist vocation for International Relations: The (global) public and its problems
(with Kavi Joseph Abraham)
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.