Conference: 1968 in the Americas: Impact, Legacies and Memory 

Call for Papers
Venue: Institute of the Americas, UCL Date: 21-22 June 2018 

Focusing on the experience of the Americas, and in light of the fiftieth anniversary of 1968, this conference analyses the impact, legacies and memories of that exceptional year. 1968 witnessed a number of dramatic events in the Americas: militant student activism in Mexico City, Kingston, Montreal, Rio de Janeiro and New York; violent protests against the Vietnam war and racial discrimination in the US; the ‘Rodney riots’ in Jamaica and the emergence of a Caribbean Black Power movement; feminist protests and the rise of women’s liberation; the election of Pierre Trudeau and the growth of Quebec separatism in Canada; the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, and the election of Richard Nixon in the US; the installation of the Government of the Revolutionary Armed Forces in Peru; and the Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City on the eve of the 1968 Olympics, where US athletes Tommy Smith and John Carlos took the Black Power salute. 1968 also produced a number of cultural landmarks in the Americas, from the emergence of tropicalismo in Brazil, to the Black Writers Congress in Montreal, and the Cultural Congress in Havana, the latter bringing together such intellectual luminaries as C.L.R. James, Aimé Césaire, and Julio Cortázar.

In line with recent scholarship on ‘the global 1960s’, which has begun to emphasise more international and transnational perspectives on this tumultuous era, the conference seeks to understand how global events were refracted locally in the Americas, and how events in the Americas reverberated outside and within the region. How, for example, were events in Paris, Prague or Berlin received in Latin America? How did West Indian student protests in Montreal affect events in the Caribbean? What political and cultural circuits connected the Americas’ 1968? In seeking to understand the local dynamics and long-term repercussions and legacies of this era, the conference also asks, what can the experience of the Americas contribute to an understanding of a ‘global 1968’? Does this moment of protest and reaction deserve its mythologization as a watershed year? How has 1968 been remembered and commemorated in the Americas?

The conference aims to be fully hemispheric in scope and coverage, with thematic panels allowing for comparisons across the region. We particularly encourage papers that make links across the region, or between the region and elsewhere.

Papers can respond (but are not restricted to) the following themes:

  • Historiography: where do the Americas fit in the narrative of ‘global 1968’? Memories, myths and commemoration
  • Protest and Reaction
  • Race, class, gender and sexuality
  • Culture and politics
  • Violence
  • Local, national, & transnational dimensions of 1968 1968 beyond the New Left

Please submit an abstract (maximum 300 words) and short bio (maximum 150 words) to Kate Quinn on katherine.quinn@ucl.ac.uk by 12 January 2018

Full versions of the conference papers will be considered for publication in an edited volume.

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