Illa Ben Porat

Dr. Illa Ben-Porat is a sociologist, and also a novelist and a musician. She currently teaches at Kibbutzim College, in Tel Aviv, Israel. Her study deals with the relationship between nation-states and the populations defined as their diaspora in the era of global and transnational migration. Ben-Porat’s research demonstrates that the relationship between a nation-state and its diaspora is not one-sided. Just as a homeland takes an active part in conceptualizing certain populations as its diaspora, so the diaspora both influences the national collective – in whose name the homeland is claiming these communities – and reshapes its character and boundaries. The perspective through which these questions are being examined is the axis of Israel and Russia, and the manner in which both countries envisage Russian-speaking Jews. By showing how two nation-states – Israel and Russia – construct the Russian-speaking Jews as a diaspora of their own, Ben-Porat’s research demonstrates that, just as the category of “diaspora” is unstable, so is that of “homeland.”