Does “la lutte continue”? The Global Afterlives of May ’68

Winthrop-King Institute International Conference, 28-30 March 2019

 

Confirmed Speakers: Daniel Cohn Bendit; Mireille Rosello (University of Amsterdam); Kristin Ross (New York University)

 

May 1968 in Paris combined sufficient amounts of social agitation, youthful exuberance, imaginative political theorizing, and unconventional theatre to catch the attention of the world. What had begun as a student protest against police incursions into the courtyard of the Sorbonne soon turned into a widespread outcry for reform in multiple domains when, after some hesitation, the CGT (Confédération Générale du Travail), France’s largest union, joined forces with the students. The result was a series of national and local strikes often leading to occupations of factories and public buildings, as well as demonstrations, both for and against the disruption of the social order. Initially De Gaulle’s government seemed unable to formulate a coherent reaction to all the dissent, but finally, in response to calls for his resignation, the General made a forceful speech declaring his unwillingness to resign and his commitment to restoring public order. Shortly thereafter, the political turmoil ground to a halt, almost as quickly as it started.  

But the repercussions lasted long after the event. It brought to light long-festering tensions not just in French society and ultimately led to demands from students and workers for changes in governmental structures and policies that found echoes throughout Europe and the Americas. “Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, New York, Berkeley, Rome, Prague, Rio, Mexico City, Warsaw,” – according to Daniel Cohn-Bendit, one of the protagonists of May’68 in Paris and founder of the “Sponti”-movement in Frankfurt, these “were the centers of a revolt that spread across the whole world and inspired the hearts and dreams of an entire generation.” Protesters felt united by their opposition against the Vietnam War; more generally they were against totalitarian political regimes of any type, fossilized traditions, patriarchal authorities, racial prejudice and sexual discrimination.

The year 2018 marks the fiftieth anniversary of these May uprisings. The Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies at Florida State University would like to take this opportunity to evaluate the extent to which May’68 was indeed a harbinger, whether for good or for ill, of social and cultural change. The orientation of our conference is thus not primarily toward the events of May’68 in themselves. Rather we wish to analyze the ramifications this historical moment has had for contemporary society. Did May’68 really engender a transnational, global movement? What has been its lasting societal and cultural impact on today’s world? To what extent has May’68 been used/abused by the Right or the Left? How are social and political movements today, like “Occupy Wall Street,” “Black Lives Matter,” or the “Arab Spring,” inspired by the events fifty years ago? Or, looking forward rather than backward, which of the aspects and ideas that inspired May’68 may serve as models for future activism?

To provide the fullest possible discussions of the multiple dimensions and transnational ramifications of May’68, the Institute encourages submissions of paper proposals from a variety of disciplines including sociology, psychology, philosophy, history, literature, and art history.

 

Possible paper topics may explore the impact of the ideas and practices of the ’68 movement on today’s politics, society, and culture in the following areas:

  1. Literature (e.g. Houellebecq, Olivier Rolin; Peter Schneider, Juli Zeh; Thomas Pynchon, Don Dellilo, Kathy Acker)
  2. Philosophy (e.g. Badiou, Ranciere; Sloterdijk; McKenzie Wark, Hakim Bey)
  3. The Arts in Film, Theater, and other Forms of Media and Expression
  4. Americanism and Anti-Americanism since ‘68
  5. Figures of ’68 and their Afterlife: the Activist, the Intellectual, the Hippie, the Reactionary, the Terrorist
  6. Theories of the Avant-garde
  7. Movements and Activism (e.g. “The Greens” & Greenpeace, LGBT, “Black Lives Matter,” “Occupy Wall Street,” “The Resistance”)

Two of our keynote speakers will be Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Mireille Rosello, others to be announced.

The conference will be held at Florida State University in Tallahassee, March 28-30, 2019. Conference languages will be English and French.

Please submit abstracts of 300-500 words by July 30, 2018, here: http://www.icffs.fsu.edu/conferences/may_1968.

 

http://winthropking.fsu.edu/event/may-68

 

Please contact the conference organizers for any questions that you may have:

William Cloonan (wcloonan@fsu.edu, Professor of French)

Barry Faulk (bfaulk@fsu.edu, Professor of English)

Martin Munro (mmunro@fsu.edu, Professor of French, Director of the Winthrop-King Institute)

Christian Weber (cweber@fsu.edu, Associate Professor of German)