1968 in Europe and Latin America

1968 in Europe and Latin America

A Working Conference at the University of Notre Dame
April 26-29, 2018


In all respects, 1968 was a watershed year on both sides of the Atlantic. Social and political divisions exploded as a result of unresolved domestic conflicts and military actions abroad. Everywhere the boundaries of conventional behavior and social mores were tested. In Europe, Parisian students were joined by labor unions in national strikes which culminated in battles with the police and ground the country’s economy to a halt. In Czechoslovakia, Alexander Dubcek led to demands for the creation of “socialism with a human face” and a confrontation with the Soviet Union. Likewise, in Latin America, diverse social groups came together in opposition to military rule and authoritarianism. New forms of cultural and political resistance were tested. As a result, outright confrontations between protestors and military and police forces broke out across the continent, from Uruguay to Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, and Mexico.

At the same time, and in the context of these conflicts, 1968 was a year of remarkable creativity in the arts, music, and the theatre. The war in Vietnam and the rise of social antagonisms spurred artists and musicians to experiment with new forms of expression; they provoked debates about the inclusion of disenfranchised groups in society (women, minorities), and they encouraged those who were involved in these movements to consider radically different ways of understanding the human condition. A new generation of writers and artists rose to prominence and openly challenged conventional ways of thinking and acting. These developments went hand in hand with innovative experiments in life-styles and community living, an expanded awareness of environmental dangers, and new forms of democratic participation.

“1968 in Europe and Latin America” will be a truly interdisciplinary event jointly sponsored by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. Instead of focusing on single countries or events, panels will be organized thematically. Because the revolutions of 1968 were global phenomena and frequently involved contacts between European and Latin American student radicals, intellectuals, and artists, each panel will include perspectives from both of these regions. 

1968 Protests World Banner