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May '68 and Its Afterlives

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  70 ratings  ·  8 reviews
During May 1968, students and workers in France united in the biggest strike and the largest mass movement in French history. Protesting capitalism, American imperialism, and Gaullism, 9 million people from all walks of life, from shipbuilders to department store clerks, stopped working. The nation was paralyzed—no sector of the workplace was untouched. Yet, just thirty ye ...more
Paperback, 247 pages
Published May 1st 2004 by University Of Chicago Press (first published May 15th 2002)
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Feb 16, 2015 AC rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 1968, france
This is quite a good book, interesting and sophisticated, though at times somewhat dense and jargony (hence the lost star) -- definitely written from a 'radical' perspective.

Ross is attempting to study not so much the nature of May '68 (as such), as its roots (in the Algerian War) and, more importantly, its recuperation (Afterlives) by the Neoliberals (from 1975-1988 - the 20th Anniversary -- and beyond).

According to Ross, the Neoliberals (and its collaborators -- all ex-gauchists -- like July
Chelsea Szendi
About damned time someone rescued "May '68" from Daniel Cohn-Bendit, et al. Ross opens up "May" beyond May and the Latin Quarter, and discusses the implications afterlives that have both limited the event temporally and spatially have for contemporary debates.

I found Ross's discussion of how the third-worldism of the 1960s has given way to a discourse on "human rights" that denies agency and voice to those in the third world particularly compelling and important.
Feb 21, 2013 *** rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: history
Since the mid-70s, May ‘68 and its memory have been the uncontested property of a select group of authority figures -- “intellectuals” and former militants turned liberal market enthusiasts -- keen to play down its political and subversive essence. These media-proclaimed specialists peddle an array of views of May ’68: as a “youth” revolt, a “cultural” transformation, a bridge to 80s individualism, a last spasm of “totalitarianism”, or even a non-event (“no one died, nothing happened”). What rem ...more
Jacob Wren
Three passages from May ’68 and Its Afterlives:

For May ’68 itself was not an artistic moment. It was an event that transpired amid very few images; French television, after all, was on strike. Drawings, political cartoons – by Siné, Willem, Cabu, and others – proliferated; photographs were taken. Only the most “immediate” of artistic techniques, it seems, could keep up with the speed of events. But to say this is already to point out how much politics was exerting a magnetic pull on culture, yan
I thought this book was fascinating, as Ross tends to be, and only revert to four stars on account of its academic tone, which I don't mind but which might annoy someone else. It is not always easy going, and I will admit that there were some pages that left me scratching my head wondering what in the hell she was talking about. Ross can hit you with some big words and ideas at times.

I'm not sure that I'm fully up to the task of communicating what the author does in these pages, but, on a basic
Aug 16, 2010 Greg rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 1968
Ross is fairly biased, but this is a good narrative of the Paris uprising/riots/protests of 1968. Lots of good detail, maybe too much, and certainly her favorite sources are the most obscure, and so maybe not the most representative. Still, it's an interesting perspective on a crazy time.
Dense for those who ain't down with post-structuralist analyses of political movements.
Both a rescuing of the radicalism of May from its neoliberal interlocutors and a brilliant account of what the project of making May safe for consumption and celebration within the frame of the post-68 French state entails, Ross's book is also a terrific account of what was truly revolutionary about the student and worker revolts and their tactics. Really impressive work of cultural history, and wonderfully written.
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