Youth, Intergenerational Conflict, and Transnational Processes in the 1960s: Chile, Argentina, and México

Conference on Latin American History 58
Sunday, January 9, 2011: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Parliament Room (The Westin Copley Place)
James N. Green, Brown University
Jaime Pensado, University of Notre Dame

Session Abstract

Internationally, the 1960s has often been characterized by the visibility and mobilization of the youth.  Although this phenomena has received significant scholarly scrutiny, this panel wishes to focus on two interrelated aspect of this mobilization.  On the one hand, the papers highlight the centrality of inter-generational conflict as a fuel to this mobilization as elders and youth clashed over meanings, ideas, and actions.   Whether school teachers, parents, representatives of political parties or members of the ‘Old Left’, the members of the older generation were the targets of youth rebellion.  These generational conflicts shaped not only community politics, but forced the re-configuration of political parties, the development of new art forms, and the eventual re-articulation of national politics.  The other element these papers stress is how transnational processes influenced, defined, challenged and shaped the young generation and the culture it created.  Cultural icons, practices, and ideas circulated around the globe and Latin American youth often embraced these new cultural forms of expression.  Ultimately, the panel wishes to add to a growing literature that conceives of the 1960s generation as having been influenced by more than ‘macho’ men in the streets.    

Mary Kay Vaughan examines inter-generational conflicts within the plastic arts in the 1960s, with a particular focus on the work of José Zuñiga. She highlights the important impact of various international artists as well as demographic and market-based changes at home to understand creative expression in the early 1960s.  Her study suggests, then, the need to add nuance and new characters to our understanding of the pre-1968 revolutionary ferment.  Bea Gurwitz focuses on intra-generational conflict within the Argentine Jewish community.  Although youth groups agreed with the older generation on their commitment to preserving and defending the State of Israel, they rejected the elders’ resistance to supporting the immigration of Argentine Jews to Israel, and their seeming disinterest in the Argentine revolutionary struggle of the 1960s and 1970s.  Fueled by the post-1967 euphoria that characterized the Diaspora, Jewish youth challenged the ‘establishment’ by forcing new evaluations of the very meanings of Jewish identity, Zionism and Argentinidad.  Patrick Barr-Melej examines Chilean culture and politics by juxtaposing counterculture with the cultural politics and ideology of the Left(s) during the ‘Chilean road to socialism’ (1970-73).  While the Marxist youth groups who proposed a countercultural dimension in revolutionary politics were suppressed by Allende’s government, the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR), which criticized Allende’s peaceful road to socialism, became the closest thing to a Chilean New Left even though it did not champion the countercultural and bohemianism of other youth groups.  Adriana Brodsky analyzes the intra-generational conflict generated by the policy of the State of Israel to train young Sephardi Jews as Zionist leaders in Sephardic institutions in Argentina.  Although the Jewish Agency considered this group central to the spreading of Zionist ideals, Sephardi Argentines found themselves caught between the expectations of the Zionist structure and their own ideas about what it meant to be a Zionist in Argentina.