Making a homeland, constructing a diaspora: The case of Taglit-Birthright Israel

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52 Scopus citations

Abstract

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 literature 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.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)14-23
Number of pages10
JournalPolitical Geography
Volume58
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Diaspora
  • Diaspora engagement
  • Diasporization
  • Embodied geography
  • Identity construction
  • Israel
  • Taglit-Birthright
  • Territorialization

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