The spirit of 1968: global perspectives on the student revolution

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tags: 1968, student revolution

Rather than merely commemorating the events of 1968, France appears to be staging something of a re-enactment. Fifty years ago this month, the events of that iconic year reached their crescendo with the mass protests in Paris by students, trade unionists and public sector workers against the direction the Gaullist government was taking the country. As one of the articles we present in this piece explains, that trajectory included a more focused, business-facing higher education sector, with student admission based on academic merit.

Those reforms ultimately perished in the conflagration, but the plans of the current French president, Emmanuel Macron, to reform the French economy and higher education system – including the introduction of selective university admission – have provoked protests that have consciously evoked 1968.

Universities have once again been occupied, including Macron’s alma mater, Sciences Po, and Sorbonne University, the epicentre of the 1968 protests. Macron has suggested that the modern protesters were actually “professional agitators” and their relatively small number – 80 in the case of Sciences Po, 200 in the case of the Sorbonne – certainly do not bear comparison with 50 years earlier. Either way, the publicity that the protests have garnered suggests that the legacy of 1968 remains potent in France.

Read entire article at Times Higher Education

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