Cold War Counterculture: 1968, and Further

The Sixties saw a florescence of countercultural dissentient operations, happenings, activist movements, thought experiments and challenges to status quo in mind and body. What is often neglected is how energized the protest movements were not only by resistance to specific conflicts like the Vietnam War, but by active dismantling of Cold War ideology. Specifically, so many of the events and movements took heart and example from the struggle against racism in US Civil Rights, from the mass protests against nuclear contamination of the late 1950s, and from the insurgent decolonizing freedom fighters around the globe. And it was gatherings, groupings and joint projects bringing activist intellectuals of all kinds together that triggered the real calls to action in the public sphere. Key to the calls were cultural actions, manifestoes, events, radical film, happenings, and artworks, from Kesey’s acid-bus Furthur, to the flower-power festivals for peace. We would like to explore the alliance of anti-military, feminist, postcolonial, ecological, artistic and philosophical activist intellectuals at the various stages running up to and from May 1968, including the important legacies of 1968 in contemporary resistance movements like Occupy.

We are looking for papers that respond to the range and targets of the cultural wing to movements against Cold War militarism, to the ways the Cold War hosted the military-industrial complex’s assault on colonial peoples, support for patriarchal structures, deployment of toxic climate-destructive technologies, use of secret state counter-insurgency, counter-intelligence and mass surveillance, the whole box of dirty tricks in the cultural progaganda drives around the world. 1968 becomes a codeword for intellectual radical thinking through of dissentient protocols and dialectics, for the breakthrough of critical theory, for the ways and means of resistance through the cultural alliance against multiple targets. We welcome papers on key texts, intellectuals, movements, events and ideas fostered by the codeword 1968 from the Cold War to the present struggles against the Leviathan.

Organizers:  Erica Sheen (York); Adam Piette (Sheffield)
Please send proposals for 20 minute papers to erica.sheen@york.ac.uk by Friday May 15.

There’s funding to support travel and expenses – please contact me with your proposal for further details.