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Memories of 1968

International Perspectives


Edited By Ingo Cornils and Sarah Waters

The 1968 events were profoundly international in character, transcending any one national context and interacting with other movements across the world. Yet the way these events are remembered is often delimited by the national cultural or political experience and is cut off from its broader international dimension. The purpose of this volume is to examine the ‘memory’ of 1968 across different national settings, looking at the cases of France, Germany, Italy, the United States, Mexico and China. How has 1968 been (re)produced and/or contested within different national cultures and how do these processes reflect national preoccupations with order, political violence, individual freedom, youth culture and self-expression? How has the memory of 1968 been narrated, framed and interpreted in different places and in different disciplines? Is there a collective memory of 1968 and does this memory cross national boundaries? By juxtaposing representations of 1968 from across a range of national cultures and by examining the processes by which 1968 is remembered, this book aims to open up the memory of 1968 to a more diverse international perspective, one that more closely reflects the dynamics of the events themselves. The papers collected in this volume are selected from the proceedings of a conference entitled ‘Memories of 1968: International Perspectives’ that was held at the University of Leeds in 2008.


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Part 1: Memories and Places 23


Part 1 Memories and Places Martin Klimke Revisiting the Revolution: 1968 in Transnational Cultural Memory The sixties that were seedbeds of fanaticism were the sixties of George Wallace as well as Jerry Rubin, police goons as well as the Black Panther party, napalm as well as flag burning. The interesting, genuinely divisive question is which sixties to embrace and which to criticize.1 — Todd Gitlin So close to and yet so distant from the present, this era cannot be pressed into simple schemata nor invoked in embellished legends and the banal narratives on the epos of longing and imagination. After all, in this his- tory, on the Latin American side, there is a great deal of blood and a great number of dead. Out of respect for them – and for the truth – we must bear witness to and interpret this age in a responsible manner. We must continue to research, rethink, and retell the history of this period, which is still far from having revealed all of its enigmas.2 — Hugo Vezzetti If there is a date in post-war history that continues to capture the emotions and imaginations of people around the globe, it is ‘1968’. Given the prevail- ing attention this year and, in fact, the whole decade, receive in politics, scholarship and public discourse, one can rightfully label it as a past that does not want to go away. As historian Gerard DeGroot argued in a recent 1 Todd Gitlin, ‘Afterword’, in: Stephen Macedo, ed., Reassessing the Sixties: Debating the...

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