Edited By Eduardo Cintra Torres and Samuel Mateus
II Historical Approaches
Erik Neveu French Literature around the Construction and Transformations of May 68’s Memory “Because something is happening there, and you don’t know what it is, do you Mr Jones”? Bob Dylan, Ballad of a thin man, 1965� Exploring how historical events are transformed and institutionalized into a memory is a classical research question for historians and social scientists� The stakes are significant if one remembers Orwell’s suggestion in 1984: “He who controls the past, controls the future”� What will the teenagers of 2030 read in school textbooks and graphic novels, or see in films that treat with the nature and meaning of the Portuguese Carnation revolution of 1974, the Thatcher years in the UK or the Greek financial crisis of the 2010s? The construction and management of the memory of 1968 in France1 has now been well studied by historians and political sociologists (Rioux, 1989, 2008; Som- mier, 1994; Gordon in Cornils & Waters, 2010; Neveu, 2014)� It could be posited that these conflicting interpretations have been fought out in three rounds� The years immediately following the “events” were mostly a time of ‘committed’ read- ings� Making sense of May 68 meant at that time taking a stand, defining May as the promise of a better future or as the disturbing expression of a possible col- lapse of the social order� This was immediately visible in 1968� Morin, Lefort and Castoriadis identify May as La brèche (The breach) which could open major op- portunities for social change and give Marxist...
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