Fifty Years after 1968: Research on the Global 1960s, Part 2: The “Violence Question” in Global 1960s Protest

AHA Session 187
Saturday, January 6, 2018: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Hampton Room (Omni Shoreham, East Lobby)
Eric Zolov, State University of New York at Stony Brook
Eric Zolov, State University of New York at Stony Brook

Session Abstract

Social movements of the 1960s around the world struggled with the question of how and where to define the ethical boundaries for political activism. When was direct action against state institutions and authorities warranted and politically effective? When did violence go “too far” or result in repression or alienation from popular sympathy? What was the "correct" course for praxis in a social landscape defined by ideological divisions? The answers to these questions, as developed in different sites while remaining attuned to global context, had important consequences for social movements and revolutionary projects in the 1960s, and continue to influence the reception and historical memory of the legacy of 1960s’ radicalism today.

The presentations in this panel get at the question of the proper place of violence in contentious politics. In considering the policing of protest in Japan, the role of violence in revolutionary politics in Chile, how the experiences of revolutionary politics in China framed one US activist’s relationship to violent and nonviolent protest, and how gendered remembering of violent clashes between students and authorities in Guatemala commemorate certain actors and obscure others, these presentations deepen an historical conversation about one of the key questions for social movements and their sympathizers in the 1960s: the question of the legitimate use of violence.

Social movements of the 1960s powerfully define the world we live in today. From citizen protests to decolonization struggles, collective action created and responded to global events and ideas.

Welcoming in the fifty-year anniversary of the iconic year of 1968, this workshop brings together scholars working in various areas to assess the state of historical research on the 1960s. It will challenge historians working across regions to consider how to link their case studies and thus consider what can be meant by the "global 1960s." It will also stage discussions on key ideas in the sixties, such as Black Power and Third Worldism, that transformed understandings of race, ethnicity, and power.This workshop will put into conversation scholars who would not usually present together, fostering a truly global perspective.