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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 5: Decentring 1968 343


Part 5 Decentring 1968 Sofia Serenelli-Messenger 1968 in an Italian Province: Memory and the Everyday Life of a New Left Group in Macerata 1. Introduction In March 1971, when the Italian ‘1968’1 had already developed into wide- spread socio-political movements reaching the most remote and provin- cial areas,2 the small, isolated and rural town of Macerata (c.a. 40,000 inhabitants), in the Marche region of central Italy, also began to be affected by the dynamics of the political struggle. Previously unstudied, this local 1968 inevitably maintained most of the characteristics of the social and cultural context from which it was derived.3 This was particularly the case with regard to the role of the family, which was traditionally the basis of the structural and cultural identity of this province: structurally, in its roots in the long tradition of sharecropping, and culturally in the prevail- 1 Rather that as an ‘event’, in this paper ‘1968’ is considered as a ‘process’, i.e. the series of social movements from the mid 1960s through the middle of the following decade. When referred to as the year 1968, the inverted commas are not used. On the Italian debate on the nature of 1968 see S. Urso, ‘Il lungo decennio: l’Italia prima del ’68’, in N. Fasano and M. Renosio (eds), I giovani e la politica: il lungo ’68 (Turin: Ega, 2002), 18–25. 2 On the large and conflicting variety of the 1968 social movements see G. Crainz, Il Paese Mancato. Dal miracolo economico agli...

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