May 1968 History

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Memory is defined as the length of time over which a person or event continues to be remembered or commemorated (Oxford Dictionary, ‘Memory’). The events of May 1968 in France is remembered and commemorated in various ways. One of the ways in which it is remembered is as a means of socio-economic and sexual liberation. However, there have been disagreements between historians and those in politics in relation to the reality of the events and the discourses written about the memory of May 1968. This essay seeks to examine the reasons how the memory of May 1968 has changed over time by comparing historical analyses and uses of the memory within politics. The end of world war two saw an influx in the number of babies born (History.com, 2010)…show more content…
As well as this, Velmet highlights how ‘revolution’ acted as a signifier for social changes but no explanations as to what those changes were provided. From a political aspect, the book ‘40 years is enough: Myth and Memory in French Commemorations of May 1968’ by Aro Velmet, highlights the issues that lie within the multiplicity of interpretation by focusing on the political responses of the time. Velmet uses the official response to the crisis as a basis to highlight how the right were criticised for being too soft whilst the left were considered ignorant of the problems that caused the strikes and revolts. On the other hand , Chris Reynolds book review on ‘May 68: Rethinking France’s Last Revolution’ states that it is necessary to move away from the conventional representations and popular perceptions of the May 1968 events through the exposure of the complexity of the events. A way in which Julian Jackson does this in his book ‘May 68: Rethinking France’s Last Revolution’ is by highlighting how the advances in personal and sexual freedom demonstrates cultural development. As well as this, Jackson states how it shows the intellectual victory for those that faced the challenge that the events…show more content…
The feminist narrative of May highlights how memory is viewed contemporarily and are interpreted based on what is happening in the present. As observed by Alessandro Portelli, memory is often manipulated by history for symbolism or political reasons. (Velmet, p 96-97, 2003) The memory of the events of May 1968 has differed and changed over time depending on which aspect of the memory is put into question, some historians questions the accuracy of the mainstream portrayal of the events whilst others question its legitimacy in influencing society. Moreover, the inability to agree on a term to depict the events of 1968 show the difficultly France faces in creating and agreeing on non-conflicting memories of the past. On the other hand, the memory of May 1968, in particular within politics is used as a means of elevating ones political influence by highlighting how France has moved on from past mistakes but also used as a way to denounce the negatives of what occurred in
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