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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 4: Fictional Imaginaries 279


Part 4 Fictional Imaginaries Ingo Cornils Utopian Moments: Memory Culture and Cultural Memory of the German Student Movement Introduction For the historian Jay Winter, ‘1968’ represents a key moment in the twen- tieth century when what he terms ‘minor utopians’ ‘succeeded in putting the notion of liberation of many different kinds in the minds of millions of their contemporaries’.1 Whilst conceding that their immediate achieve- ments were meager or nonexistent, he argues that their visions of an alter- native reality precipitated ‘a series of moments of possibility, of openings, of hopes and dreams rarely realized, but rarely forgotten as well’.2 Judging from recent publications, the German Student Movement continues to represent ‘unfinished business’, precisely because the utopian moment, in a very German and Faustian sense, did not last. At the Leipzig book fair in the spring of 2008, the theme of ‘1968’ dominated the headlines. Every publisher, large or small, had at least one book in their catalogue3 1 Jay Winter, Dreams of Peace and Freedom. Utopian Moments in the 20th Century (New Haven: Yale University Press 2006), 151. 2 J. Winter, 2. 3 Most notable: Norbert Frei, 1968. Jugendrevolte und globaler Protest (München: dtv 2008); Reinhard Mohr, Der diskrete Charme der Rebellion. Ein Leben mit den 68ern (Berlin: WJS-Verlag 2008); Götz Aly, Unser Kampf. 1968 – ein irritierter Blick zurück (Frankfurt: Fischer 2008); Albrecht von Lucke, 68 oder neues Biedermeier. Der Kampf um die Deutungsmacht (Berlin: Wagenbach 2008); Daniel Cohn-Bendit / Rüdiger Dammann (eds), 1968. Die...

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