European University Institute Bodies across borders: oral and visual memory in Europe and beyond
Bodies across borders: oral and visual memory in Europe and beyond

22-24 February 2017 – Block Seminar “1968 Across the Iron Curtain”

This workshop is a case study of simultaneous events that shaped our world in entangled ways. While we remember 1968 as the moment of liberating, though non-accomplished, student revolutions in France and the US, this year also saw the Soviet invasion in Czechoslovakia. The year marked the turning point in the Vietnam war and, arguably, in the Cold War as well. Richard Nixon was elected the president of the US, and Leonid Brezhnev consolidated his power over the USSR. Martin Luther King was shot dead in Memphis, and Andrej Siniavsky was serving in a forced labor camp in Mordovia. Yale University announced it was going to admit women. Using the new language of human rights, Russian and Ukrainian dissidents started their struggle with the Soviet regime. From Brazil to Italy, protest movements shook the world but mostly failed to change the governments. Led Zeppelin started performances, and the Beatles sang “Back in the USSR” and became popular there. On the both sides of the Iron Curtain, the enthusiasm and disappointments of 1968 transformed philosophy, political thought, literature and cinema of the subsequent era. The best-known French philosophers, Italian film-makers, American politicians, Polish dissidents all came from the generation that shaped 1968 and were shaped by this historical moment. After 1968, the crucial concepts of human existence – sex, power, gender, class, race – have never been the same, and their tectonic shifts also occurred across the Iron Curtain. In this workshop, we will explore various dimensions of this transnational change. We will complement case studies from countries of Western, Central and Eastern European with broader speculations on issues of history and memory, generations and revolutions, subjectivity and power.
Syllabus
Programme