Reframing ’68 – the year of ‘global revolt’ 50 years on

Posted on: 27 September 2018

The year 1968 is often regarded as a year of ‘global revolt’ as revolutions around the globe cut across national boundaries, from student protests in France to the Cultural Revolution in China. Marking the 50th anniversary of the iconic year of protest, historians and cultural experts from around the world will gather in Trinity this week to ask what does 1968 mean in 2018?

Organised by the School of Histories and Humanities, the School of English and the School of Languages, Literature and Cultural Studies, a three-day programme of events will assess the complex legacy of 1968 and present new research illustrating the role of conservative forces, as well as radicals, in shaping the ‘year of revolt’. It will also reflect on the experiences of Ireland and Northern Ireland, on the fiftieth anniversary of the most significant year of the Civil Rights Movement, and of the papal encyclical Humane Vitae.

The programme of free events commenced on Wednesday, September 26th with a screening and analysis of the documentary Rocky Road to Dublin (1968) — the last film to be shown at the Cannes Film festival before it was shut down in solidarity with the student protests in Paris. While the rest of the world seemed to be turning on its head director Peter Lennon presented a picture of an isolated and repressed capital city, unaffected by the winds of change elsewhere.

This will be followed on Thursday, September 27th with a panel discussion with European experts who will ask ‘what does ’68 mean in 2018?’ with particular focus on its complex legacy; ’68 can be considered to have paved the way for both the neoliberalism of the 1980s and the contemporary #MeToo movement.

On Friday, September 28th, an academic symposium will hear new research which broadens and diversifies our understanding of this seminal year, including a paper by Trinity’s Dr Dan Geary considering the impact of conservative forces such as Ian Paisley and American segregationists; a paper entitled Too Many Children’? Family Planning and Humanae Vitae in Dublin by Deirdre Foley (DCU) and a paper entitled The Man in Black Goes to Washington: Johnny Cash, Richard Nixon, and the Vietnam War, by Michael Foley (University of Groningen). The key note speech entitled ‘“Women’s 1968 is not yet over” The capture of speech and the gendering of 1968’ will be delivered by Maud Bracke (University of Glasgow).

Organiser of the events, Dr Carole Holohan, Assistant Professor in Modern Irish History, and author of Reframing Irish Youth in the Sixties, commented: “While many see ’68 as a year of student protest we are taking a longer and wider view, highlighting the experiences of those often left out of the story of ’68, from people in sixties China to female activists in the US Civil Rights movement.”

Dr Daniel Geary, Associate Professor, School of Histories and Humanities and author of Beyond Civil Rights: The Moynihan Report and Its Legacy added “1968 was a pivotal year in world history.  What our conference will showcase is that events in different countries were deeply connected and the transformations associated with that year affected the political right as well as the political left.  For example, my own research will show that Ian Paisley’s resistance to civil rights activism in Northern Ireland led him to develop close ties with American segregationists. Our conference will also suggest ways in which developments in Ireland, from civil rights activism to Catholic resistance to birth control, were part of broader global changes.”

The programme of events is supported by the Trinity Long Room Hub under the Making Ireland and Identities in Transformation research themes, the Embassy of France in Dublin, and the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Full programme and registration details are available here:

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