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Jewish-American Radicalism in the Nineteenth Century: A Case Study of Anarchist Radicalisation in New York City

Frank Jacob

Published In:
Published Date:

January 2023


Anarchism, Jewish Anarchism, Jewish Radicalism, New York City


Isidore Wisotsky was a young Jewish immigrant to the United States at the end of the long nineteenth century. Having arrived to live the American Dream in New York City, this young Jewish man, who had left not only Eastern Europe but also parts of his family’s identity behind, became radicalised amid the spatial and temporal context of the city. Wisotsky became an anarchist. The extent to which New York City and a particular politically radical Jewish element played a role in this transformative development will be discussed in detail in this article. It will show that nineteenth- century radicalism in the United States was not imported, but rather created by the exploitative means of a capitalist industrial complex that shattered the hopes and dreams of many first-generation immigrants, as Wisotsky’s case represents. I will rely on Wisotsky’s autobiographical notes as an ego document that serves as a contextual frame within which the story of Jewish immigration to, and radicalisation in, the United States can be told.

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97 - 121

Date of Publication:

January 2023

About the author

Frank Jacob

Frank Jacob is Professor of Global History at Nord Universitet, Norway. His fields of interest and research include transnational anarchism, revolution theory, and the comparative history of revolutions. His latest publications include the monographs Emma Goldman: Identitäten einer Anarchistin (2022) and #Revolution (2022).

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