Cite: Shumsky, Leon Pinsker and ‘Autoemancipation!’

Shumsky, Dimitry. “Leon Pinsker and ‘Autoemancipation!’: A Reevaluation.” Jewish Social Studies 18.1 (2011): 33-62.





Using recently uncovered writings by Leon Pinsker, the proto-Zionist thinker, the current article challenges the generally accepted understanding of Pinsker’s intellectual development as moving “from assimilation to nationalism.” In particular, the article reevaluates the idea that in his pamphlet “Autoemancipation!” Pinsker proposed territorial nationalism as an ideological substitute for Jewish civic emancipation in the Diaspora, particularly in the Russian empire. Rather, Pinsker held that the establishment of a national Jewish territory would, by its very existence, pave the way for the enhanced emancipation of those Jews who continued to live outside the territorial homeland.