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Sous les pavés … The Troubles

Northern Ireland, France and the European Collective Memory of 1968


Chris Reynolds

Recent studies on the impact of 1968 have focussed on transnational perspectives. The scope and nature of the rebellions go far beyond the stereotypical frameworks that have dominated traditional representations. As the diversity of this ‘year’ of revolt gains greater currency, the case of 1968 has emerged as a critical lens through which to examine the question of transnational collective memories. This book addresses the dominance of the French mai 68 in the way the events are remembered at a European level. Through a comparison with the French events, this study explores how the memory of Northern Ireland’s 1968 has been marginalised and argues a case for its inclusion on the list of countries that make up this Europe-wide period of revolt.
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← 10 | 11 → Introduction


The year 1968 has become the focus of such intense, prolonged and sustained debate that it is guaranteed to go down, at the very least, as one of the most pivotal moments in the post-war history of Europe and the world. Traditionally, much emphasis has been placed on the national framework in relation to these events, with complex debates and discussions within individual nations as to what happened, why and what is has all meant and continues to mean.1 Such a nationally specific focus is hardly surprising; the sheer magnitude of the revolt sent shockwaves through each nation concerned, forcing diverse and serious internal questioning that has been central in shaping respective national narratives on this “year” of upheaval. Given the immediacy of the urgency to understand, in many cases, it has been the very protagonists who have been central in forging the dominant narrative. This has inevitably led to a situation whereby, in each national setting, a specific representation, largely inflected by former militants and actors from the time, has come to dominate how these stories are told. As will be argued later, the strength of consensus varies from country to country (and this is vitally important in terms of the transnational memory) but generally this trend is obvious in all nations involved. However, in recent years, a notable change has become increasingly evident.

As the generation of 1968 passes, a cohort of researchers with a new approach to this period has emerged, reflecting a more general...

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