1968 – The Resonant Memory of a Rebellious Year

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Abstract

The year 1968 has been considered a historical moment in the study of protest. What is celebrated on its fiftieth anniversary, as for any historical event, is a particularly specific vision of that year. This article bridges social movement studies with memory studies, arguing that social movement studies should give more attention to how movement events are remembered by subsequent movements. I argue that the memory of 1968 has proven to be selective, contested, and changeable over time. I suggest that, as memories of democratic transitions intertwined with anti-austerity protests, the memories of 1968’s rebellious year acquire a central relevance in times of quick transformation, in which old identities and relations are unsettled and new ones emerge. I explore this through a discussion of current debates on memory distortion, contestation, and fluidity.

Contributor Notes

Donatella della Porta is Professor of Political Science, Dean of the Department of Political and Social Sciences, and Director of the Political Science and Sociology PhD program at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence, where she also leads the Center on Social Movement Studies (Cosmos). Among the main topics of her research are social movements, political violence, terrorism, corruption, the police, and protest policing. She recently directed the major ERC project, “Mobilizing for Democracy,” on civil society participation in democratization processes in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. Email: donatella.dellaporta@sns.it

Contention

The Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Protest

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