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Conference—”Before ’68: The Left, activism & social movements in the long 1960s”

Conference Dates: 13 and 14 February 2016

Venue: School of History, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK and hosted by UEA School of History in conjunction with the journal Socialist History and the Institute of Working Class History (Chicago).

The events of 1968, particularly those in France, have achieved a mythical status in both the memory and the historiography of the 1960s. For some, 1968 marked the end-point of a realignment of the European ‘New Left’. For others 1968 represented a student generation in revolt, and many of the first accounts which sought to explain the history and meaning of ’68 were written by that generation.

More recently historians have tried to demythologise ’68, looking both at less ‘glamourous’ locales and at the deeper histories of anti-colonial struggles and worker activism prior to the events of that year. The aim of this conference is to explore the diverse histories of social activism and left politics in Britain and elsewhere, and how they prepared the ground for and fed into ‘1968’.

Themes might include, but are not limited to:

  • Anti-nuclear & peace movements
    Civil Rights struggles
    The Black Power movement
    Anti-colonial politics
    The activities of the Labour movement and the ‘traditional’ Left
    The grassroots activism of the ‘New Left’
    Far Left challenges: Trotskyism & Maoism
    Campaigns around housing and the built environment
    Campaigns around race and discrimination in the workplace and housing
    Solidarity movements with struggles abroad (e.g. South Africa, Vietnam)
    Campaigns for Homosexual Equality
    Second Wave Feminism

We are seeking papers of 5,000 to 10,000 words on any aspects of left activism and social movements in the period preceding 1968 to be presented at the conference. Selected papers will be published in a special issue of the journal Socialist History. Attendance at the conference will be free of charge, but we ask that anyone wishing to attend registers in advance.

Proposals for papers and any enquiries should be submitted to Ben Jones.


Deadline for proposals for papers: 31 October 2015

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