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Activist Archives
Youth Culture and the Political Past in Indonesia
Doreen Lee
Duke University Press, 2016
In Activist Archives Doreen Lee tells the origins, experiences, and legacy of the radical Indonesian student movement that helped end the thirty-two-year dictatorship in May 1998. Lee situates the revolt as the most recent manifestation of student activists claiming a political and historical inheritance passed down by earlier generations of politicized youth. Combining historical and ethnographic analysis of "Generation 98," Lee offers rich depictions of the generational structures, nationalist sentiments, and organizational and private spaces that bound these activists together. She examines the ways the movement shaped new and youthful ways of looking, seeing, and being—found in archival documents from the 1980s and 1990s; the connections between politics and place; narratives of state violence; activists' experimental lifestyles; and the uneven development of democratic politics on and off the street. Lee illuminates how the interaction between official history, collective memory, and performance came to define youth citizenship and resistance in Indonesia’s transition to the post-Suharto present. 

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Beyond the Barricades
The Sixties Generation Grows Up
Jack Whalen
Temple University Press, 1990
"'The Big Chill' told only half the story of where Sixties activists ended up. Whalen and Flacks... honestly chronicle the other half." --Abbie Hoffman "What happens to youthful idealism as people leave their youth behind? ...Where do young revolutionaries go when the revolution doesn't happen?" Amid the social and political turmoil of the late 1960s, student demonstrations on college campuses and in nearby communities looked like a prelude to apocalypse. By 1970 radical students at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), were involved in burning the Bank of America branch in Isla Vista and a series of riots and demonstrations that culminated in hundreds of arrests, numerous injuries, and one student death. To some campus observers, the violence and property damage were nothing more than a meaningless rampage--privileged students running amok. To those actively involved in the student movement and the Radical Union, the second American revolution was at hand. The disparate views of these events persist some twenty years later. In Beyond the Barricades, Whalen and Flacks challenge the conventional wisdom, which holds that the Sixties Generation soon outgrew their political ideals and channeled their energies into building lucrative careers and accumulating material goods. For nine years, the authors have maintained contact with eighteen men and women who participated in the UCSB student movement, asking probing questions about the long-term significance of political commitment to individual lives. They have also tracked fourteen former students who were part of the sorority/fraternity subculture in an attempt to discern whether the paths of the two student groups tend to converge as they grow older. This study grows out of the student activists' own assessments of the events at UCSB and the lives they have shaped in subsequent years. It demonstrates that student activists did not abandon their beliefs or become disillusioned with the prospects for social change as they left the university and ventured into the adult world. Indeed, their present political convictions and vocational commitments are largely consistent with their past views--even as they have had to adapt to changes in their personal needs and in the social climate. In asking where the students are now, the authors illuminate something about how our society has been affected--culturally, institutionally, psychologically--by the movements and conflicts of the sixties. Whalen and Flacks "offer these stories in the same spirit that apparently guided [the] respondents: as contributions to the ongoing discourse on how we might live according to our dreams!" "Whalen and Flacks are true Sixties sociologists--hip white knights who ride out to slay the ideal-crushing dragon of ‘The Big Chill.' In all, a heart-on-the-sleeve, hopeful study that should appeal to social psychologists and Sixties sympathizers." --Kirkus Reviews "In the first systematic study of the sequels to New Left radicalism, Whalen and Flacks bring alive the real choices of real activists. This is a lucid and enlightening book, full of stimulating ideas about continuities and fragilities in American radicalism." --Todd Gitlin, author of The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage "As Whalen and Flacks know, ‘The Big Chill' was a lie. The earthquake called the Sixties changed lives--and this pioneering study explains why, showing how the generation schooled in activism has been struggling to keep faith with the ideal of social justice and democracy." --James Miller, author of Democracy is in the Streets "Beyond the, in short, very good sociology of the intimate close-up sort. And it helps us to understand that most of the so-called yuppies are not (as we have cynically been led to believe) ex-hippies or student radicals, but rather very probably come from that majority of 1960s students who were never either." --Bennett M. Berger, University of California, San Diego

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Black Power in the Bluff City
African American Youth and Student Activism in Memphis, 1965–1975
Shirletta Kinchen
University of Tennessee Press, 2016
During the civil rights era, Memphis gained a reputation for having one of the South’s strongest NAACP branches. But that organization, led by the city’s black elite, was hardly the only driving force in the local struggle against racial injustice. In the late sixties, Black Power proponents advocating economic, political, and cultural self-determination effectively mobilized Memphis’s African American youth, using an array of moderate and radical approaches to protest and change conditions on their campuses and in the community.
            While Black Power activism on the coasts and in the Midwest has attracted considerable scholarly attention, much less has been written about the movement’s impact outside these hotbeds. In Black Power in the Bluff City, Shirletta J. Kinchen helps redress that imbalance by examining how young Memphis activists, like Coby Smith and Charles Cabbage, dissatisfied by the pace of progress in a city emerging from the Jim Crow era, embraced Black Power ideology to confront such challenges as gross disparities in housing, education, and employment as well as police brutality and harassment. Two closely related Black Power organizations, the Black Organizing Project and the Invaders, became central to the local black youth movement in the late 1960s. Kinchen traces these groups’ participation in the 1968 sanitation workers’ strike—including the controversy over whether their activities precipitated events that culminated in Martin Luther King’s assassination—and their subsequent involvement in War on Poverty programs. The book also shows how Black Power ideology drove activism at the historically black LeMoyne-Owen College, scene of a 1968 administration-building takeover, and at the predominately white Memphis State University, where African American students transformed the campus by creating parallel institutions that helped strengthen black student camaraderie and consciousness in the face of marginalization.
            Drawing on interviews with activists, FBI files, newspaper accounts from the period, and many other sources, the author persuasively shows not only how an emerging generation helped define the black freedom struggle in Memphis but also how they applied the tenets of Black Power to shape the broader community.

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The Cultural Revolution at the Margins
Chinese Socialism in Crisis
Yiching Wu
Harvard University Press, 2014

Mao Zedong envisioned a great struggle to "wreak havoc under the heaven" when he launched the Cultural Revolution in 1966. But as radicalized Chinese youth rose up against Party officials, events quickly slipped from the government's grasp, and rebellion took on a life of its own. Turmoil became a reality in a way the Great Leader had not foreseen. The Cultural Revolution at the Margins recaptures these formative moments from the perspective of the disenfranchised and disobedient rebels Mao unleashed and later betrayed.

The Cultural Revolution began as a "revolution from above," and Mao had only a tenuous relationship with the Red Guard students and workers who responded to his call. Yet it was these young rebels at the grassroots who advanced the Cultural Revolution's more radical possibilities, Yiching Wu argues, and who not only acted for themselves but also transgressed Maoism by critically reflecting on broader issues concerning Chinese socialism. As China's state machinery broke down and the institutional foundations of the PRC were threatened, Mao resolved to suppress the crisis. Leaving out in the cold the very activists who had taken its transformative promise seriously, the Cultural Revolution devoured its children and exhausted its political energy.

The mass demobilizations of 1968-69, Wu shows, were the starting point of a series of crisis-coping maneuvers to contain and neutralize dissent, producing immense changes in Chinese society a decade later.


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Democracy Is in the Streets
From Port Huron to the Siege of Chicago, With a New Preface by the Author
James Miller
Harvard University Press, 1994
On June 12, 1962, sixty young student activists drafted a manifesto for their generation—The Port Huron Statement—that ignited a decade of dissent. Democracy Is in the Streets is the definitive history of the major people and ideas that shaped the New Left in America during that turbulent decade. Because the 1960s generation is now moving into positions of power in politics, education, the media, and business, their early history is crucial to our understanding. James Miller, in his new Preface, puts the 1960s and them into a context for our time, claiming that something of value did happen: “Most of the large questions raised by that moment of chaotic openness—political questions about the limits of freedom, and cultural questions, too, about the authority of the past and the anarchy of the new—are with us still.”

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Foreign Front
Third World Politics in Sixties West Germany
Quinn Slobodian
Duke University Press, 2012
It is often asserted that West German New Leftists "discovered the Third World" in the pivotal decade of the 1960s. Quinn Slobodian upsets that storyline by beginning with individuals from the Third World themselves: students from Africa, Asia, and Latin America who arrived on West German campuses in large numbers in the early 1960s. They were the first to mobilize German youth in protest against acts of state violence and injustice perpetrated beyond Europe and North America. The activism of the foreign students served as a model for West German students, catalyzing social movements and influencing modes of opposition to the Vietnam War. In turn, the West Germans offered the international students solidarity and safe spaces for their dissident engagements. This collaboration helped the West German students to develop a more nuanced, empathetic understanding of the Third World, not just as a site of suffering, poverty, and violence, but also as the home of politicized individuals with the capacity and will to speak in their own names.

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Fractured Rebellion
The Beijing Red Guard Movement
Andrew G. Walder
Harvard University Press, 2012

Fractured Rebellion is the first full-length account of the evolution of China’s Red Guard Movement in Beijing, the nation’s capital, from its beginnings in 1966 to its forcible suppression in 1968. Andrew Walder combines historical narrative with sociological analysis as he explores the radical student movement’s crippling factionalism, devastating social impact, and ultimate failure.

Most accounts of the movement have portrayed a struggle among Red Guards as a social conflict that pitted privileged “conservative” students against socially marginalized “radicals” who sought to change an oppressive social and political system. Walder employs newly available documentary evidence and the recent memoirs of former Red Guard leaders and members to demonstrate that on both sides of the bitter conflict were students from comparable socioeconomic backgrounds, who shared similar—largely defensive—motivations. The intensity of the conflict and the depth of the divisions were an expression of authoritarian political structures that continued to exert an irresistible pull on student motives and actions, even in the midst of their rebellion.

Walder’s nuanced account challenges the main themes of an entire generation of scholarship about the social conflicts of China’s Cultural Revolution, shedding light on the most tragic and poorly understood period of recent Chinese history.


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Generation at the Crossroads
Apathy and Action on the American Campus
Loeb, Paul R
Rutgers University Press, 1994

Challenging prevailing media stereotypes, Generation at the Crossroads explores the beliefs and choices of the students who came of age in the 1980s and 1990s. For seven years, at over a hundred campuses in thirty states, Paul Loeb asked students about the values they held. He examines their concepts of responsibility, the links they draw between present and future, and how they view themselves in relation to the larger human community in which they live. He brings us a range of voices, from "I'm not that kind of person," to "I had to take a stand." Loeb looks at how the rest of us can serve young people as better role models, and give them courage and vision to help build a better world.

This insightful book explores the culture of withdrawal that dominated American campuses through most of the eighties. He locates its roots in historical ignorance, relentless individualism, mistrust of social movements, and a general isolation from urgent realities. He examines why a steadily increasing minority has begun to take on critical public issues, whether environmental activism, apartheid, hunger and homelessness, affordable education, or racial and sexual equity. Loeb looks at individuals who have overcome precisely the barriers he has described, and how their journeys can become models. The generational choices he explores will shape our common future.


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The Letters of Mercurius
Harvard University Press

Who is Mercurius Oxoniensis? The first of his brilliantly witty letters mysteriously appeared, apparently without the authority of the writer, in the Spectator towards the end of 1968. Their candid, penetrating and caustic commentary on personalities and events (considered by some to verge on indiscretion) indicate inside information and sources. They caused an instant stir leading to some wild conjecture as to their authorship in the columns of The Times, in the University Common Rooms and in literary and academic circles. An authorized, accurately transcribed, and annotated publication of these Letters (up to June 1970) is now possible; but the anonymity remains. It is not difficult to see why, because Mercurius names names and spares no reputation: he is altogether too well informed for his own good.

According to the Editor of the Letters, the Oxford Mercurius "is a college tutor in one of the colleges in Turl Street; a bachelor, of declining years and uncertain health; somewhat old-fashioned in his views, and in his language; fond of his glass of port or hock, and teaches, inter alia, the Politics of Aristotle. He is slightly crotchety, but generally in good humour by his family circle and friends."

But what makes Mercurius’s achievement unique is that he has succeeded in fashioning from the English of the seventeenth century, the language both of John Aubrey, the great gossip, and of the racist pamphleteers, the perfect instrument for a sustained and sparkling present-day chronicle of the more noteworthy events in university life, and in particular of the "student stirs" that first prompted him to put quill to paper. Indeed in all the millions of words that have been written about student unrest in the modern world, there has been nothing more perceptive than the devastatingly entertaining observations of old Mercurius on the "fanatiques" and those who confront them.


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Marching Students
Chicana and Chicano Activism in Education, 1968 to the Present
Margarita Berta-Avila
University of Nevada Press, 2011
In 1968 over 10,000 Chicana/o high school students in East Los Angeles walked out of their schools in the first major protest against racism and educational inequality staged by Mexican Americans in the United States. They ignited the Mexican-American civil rights movement, which opened the doors to higher education and equal opportunity in employment for Mexican Americans and other Latinos previously excluded. Marching Students is a collaborative effort by Chicana/o scholars in several fields to place the 1968 walkouts and Chicana and Chicano Civil Rights Movement in historical context, highlighting the contribution of Chicana/o educators, students, and community activists to minority education.
Contributors: Alejandro Covarrubias, Xico González, Eracleo Guevara, Adriana Katzew, Lilia R. De Katzew, Rita Kohli, Edward M. Olivos, Alejo Padilla, Carmen E. Quintana, Evelyn M. Rangel-Medina, Marianna Rivera, Daniel G. Solórzano, Carlos Tejeda

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Peace in the Mountains
Northern Appalachian Students Protest the Vietnam War
Tom Weyant
University of Tennessee Press, 2020

Peace in the Mountains analyzes student activism at the University of Pittsburgh, Ohio University, and West Virginia University during the Vietnam War era. Drawing from a wide variety of sources including memoirs, periodicals, archival manuscript collections, and college newspapers such as The Pitt News, author Thomas Weyant tracks the dynamics of a student-led campus response to the war in real time and outside the purview of the national media. Along the way, he musters evidence for an emerging social and political conscience among the student bodies of northern Appalachia, citing politics on campus, visions of patriotism and dissent, campus citizenship, antiwar activism and draft resistance, campus issues, and civil rights as major sites of contention and exploration.

Through this regional chronicle of student activism during the Vietnam War era, Weyant holds to one reoccurring and unifying theme: citizenship. His account shows that political activism and civic engagement were by no means reserved to students at elite colleges; on the contrary, Appalachian youth were giving voice to the most vexing questions of local and national responsibility, student and citizen identity, and the role of the university in civil society. Rich in primary source material from student op-eds to administrative documents, Peace in the Mountains draws a new map of student activism in the 1960s and early 1970s. Weyant’s study is a thoughtful and engaging addition to both Appalachian studies and the historiography of the Vietnam War era and is sure to appeal not only to specialists—Appalachian scholars, political historians, political scientists, and sociologists—but to college students and general readers as well.


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Photopoetics at Tlatelolco
Afterimages of Mexico, 1968
By Samuel Steinberg
University of Texas Press, 2016

In the months leading up to the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City, students took to the streets, calling for greater democratization and decrying crackdowns on political resistance by the ruling PRI party. During a mass meeting held at the Plaza of the Three Cultures in the Tlatelolco neighborhood, paramilitary forces opened fire on the gathering. The death toll from the massacre remains a contested number, ranging from an official count in the dozens to estimates in the hundreds by journalists and scholars. Rereading the legacy of this tragedy through diverse artistic-political interventions across the decades, Photopoetics at Tlatelolco explores the state’s dual repression—both the massacre’s crushing effects on the movement and the manipulation of cultural discourse and political thought in the aftermath.

Examining artifacts ranging from documentary photography and testimony to poetry, essays, chronicles, cinema, literary texts, video, and performance, Samuel Steinberg considers the broad photographic and photopoetic nature of modern witnessing as well as the specific elements of light (gunfire, flares, camera flashes) that ultimately defined the massacre. Steinberg also demonstrates the ways in which the labels of “massacre” and “sacrifice” inform contemporary perceptions of the state’s blatant and violent repression of unrest. With implications for similar processes throughout the rest of Latin America from the 1960s to the present day, Photopoetics at Tlatelolco provides a powerful new model for understanding the intersection of political history and cultural memory.


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Power and Protest
Global Revolution and the Rise of Detente
Jeremi Suri
Harvard University Press, 2005

In a brilliantly-conceived book, Jeremi Suri puts the tumultuous 1960s into a truly international perspective in the first study to examine the connections between great power diplomacy and global social protest. Profoundly disturbed by increasing social and political discontent, Cold War powers united on the international front, in the policy of detente. Though reflecting traditional balance of power considerations, detente thus also developed from a common urge for stability among leaders who by the late 1960s were worried about increasingly threatening domestic social activism.

In the early part of the decade, Cold War pressures simultaneously inspired activists and constrained leaders; within a few years activism turned revolutionary on a global scale. Suri examines the decade through leaders and protesters on three continents, including Mao Zedong, Charles de Gaulle, Martin Luther King Jr., Daniel Cohn-Bendit, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. He describes connections between policy and protest from the Berkeley riots to the Prague Spring, from the Paris strikes to massive unrest in Wuhan, China.

Designed to protect the existing political order and repress movements for change, detente gradually isolated politics from the public. The growth of distrust and disillusion in nearly every society left a lasting legacy of global unrest, fragmentation, and unprecedented public skepticism toward authority.


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Power Politics
Environmental Activism in South Los Angeles
Brodkin, Karen
Rutgers University Press, 2009
In the late 1990s, when California's deregulation of the production and sale of electric power created massive energy shortages, a group of environmental justice activists blocked construction of a power plant in their working-class Mexican and Central American neighborhoods. Why did they choose this battle? And how did the largely high school student activists come to prevail in the face of statewide political opinion?

Power Politics is a rich and readable study of a grassroots campaign where longtime labor and environmental allies found themselves on opposite sides of a conflict that pitted good jobs against good air. Karen Brodkin analyzes how those issues came to be opposed and in doing so unpacks the racial and class dynamics that shape Americans' grasp of labor and environmental issues. Power Politics' activists stood at the forefront of a movement that is building broad-based environmental coalitions and placing social justice at the heart of a new and robust vision.


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Prairie Power
Voices of 1960s Midwestern Student Protest
Robbie Lieberman
University of Missouri Press, 2019
Prairie Power, a superb collection of oral histories from the 1960s, focuses on former student radicals at the University of Missouri, the University of Kansas, and Southern Illinois University. Robbie Lieberman presents a view of Midwestern New Left activists that has been neglected in previous studies.
Scholarship on the sixties has been shifting from a national focus to more local and regional studies, but few authors have studied the student movement in the Midwest. Moreover, the characterization of prairie power activists as “long-haired, dope-smoking anarchists” who were responsible for the downfall of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) has not been challenged directly. While still viewing these activists critically, Lieberman argues that Midwestern students made significant contributions to the New Left in the latter half of the decade, and that their efforts were not only important at the time but also had a lasting impact on the universities and towns in which they were active.
The author begins by explaining “prairie power” and establishing its significance in the history of 1960s protest. She then presents the oral histories in three parts. The first section reveals what “prairie power” meant to national leaders of SDS who were regional organizers in the Midwest. The second section of oral histories gives insight into the backgrounds, concerns, and activities of local leaders from the three universities who were homegrown Midwestern activists. Lieberman shows that while the national leaders take credit for organizing on several college campuses, the local activists often felt that they were on their own.
The third group of oral histories—from grassroots activists—is what most sets this book apart from previous works on the student New Left. These are students who joined demonstrations on their own campuses but did not necessarily identify with either local or national organizations. Their rarely heard voices help provide a better understanding of who participated in the student protest movement, why they were involved, and how their activities profoundly affected their lives for years to come.
Prairie Power makes a significant contribution toward a more comprehensive history of student activism in the turbulent 1960s.

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Radicals in the Heartland
The 1960s Student Protest Movement at the University of Illinois
Michael V. Metz
University of Illinois Press, 2019
In 1969, the campus tumult that defined the Sixties reached a flash point at the University of Illinois. Out-of-town radicals preached armed revolution. Students took to the streets and fought police and National Guardsmen. Firebombs were planted in lecture halls while explosions rocked a federal building on one side of town and a recruiting office on the other. Across the state, the powers-that-be expressed shock that such events could take place at Illinois's esteemed, conservative, flagship university—how could it happen here, of all places?

Positioning the events in the context of their time, Michael V. Metz delves into the lives and actions of activists at the center of the drama. A participant himself, Metz draws on interviews, archives, and newspaper records to show a movement born in demands for free speech, inspired by a movement for civil rights, and driven to the edge by a seemingly never-ending war. If the sudden burst of irrational violence baffled parents, administrators, and legislators, it seemed inevitable to students after years of official intransigence and disregard. Metz portrays campus protesters not as angry, militant extremists but as youthful citizens deeply engaged with grave moral issues, embodying the idealism, naiveté, and courage of a minority of a generation.


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The Rights of Youth
American Colleges and Student Revolt, 1798–1815
Steven J. Novak
Harvard University Press, 1977

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Rise Up!
Activism as Education
Amalia Dache
Michigan State University Press, 2019
We live at a time when the need for resistance has come front and center to international consciousness. Rise Up! Activism as Education works to advance theory and practice-oriented understandings of multiple forms of and relationships between racial justice activism and diverse and transnational educational contexts. Here contributors provide detailed accounts and examinations—historical and contemporary, local and international—of active resistance efforts aimed at transforming individuals, institutions, and communities to dismantle systems of racial domination. They explore the ways in which racial justice activism serves as public education and consciousness-raising and a form of education and resistance from those engaged in the activism. The text makes a case for activism as an educational concept that enables organizers and observers to gain important learning outcomes from on-the-ground perspectives as it explores racial justice activism, specifically in the context of community and campus activism, intersectional activism, and Black diasporic liberation. This volume is an essential handbook for preparing both students and activists to effectively resist.

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Searching for Life's Meaning
Changes and Tensions in the Worldviews of Chinese Youth in the 1980s
Luo Xu
University of Michigan Press, 2002
How did a self-centered "me generation" engage in a student movement that developed into the largest urban protest in modern Chinese history? Searching for Life's Meaning explores the profound changes in the beliefs and values of Chinese youth that occurred during the 1980s and that ultimately led to the confrontation in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Drawing on his own experience as a teacher at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China during the 1980s, as well as exhaustive research, Luo Xu investigates the social and political climate of 1980s China in order to help better define the culture that ultimately drove the events at Tiananmen. Supporting his arguments with solid primary source documents, Xu contends that the contemplation of the meaning of life, along with other philosophical questions, were integral components of the general social crisis leading up to the movement of 1989.
Elegantly written and accessible to a general readership, this study will also be useful to specialists. Searching for Life's Meaning is a concise but detailed introduction to the mentalities of the Chinese generation presently assuming leadership in China. It should be valuable reading in courses on Chinese history and politics, and will be of interest to scholars in the related fields of Asian studies, anthropology, cultural studies, and youth studies. The book will also appeal to business- people and other professionals concerned with managing relations with the world's fastest growing polity.
Luo Xu is Assistant Professor of History, State University of New York College at Cortland.

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Speaking of Flowers
Student Movements and the Making and Remembering of 1968 in Military Brazil
Victoria Langland
Duke University Press, 2013
Speaking of Flowers is an innovative study of student activism during Brazil's military dictatorship (1964–85) and an examination of the very notion of student activism, which changed dramatically in response to the student protests of 1968. Looking into what made students engage in national political affairs as students, rather than through other means, Victoria Langland traces a gradual, uneven shift in how they constructed, defended, and redefined their right to political participation, from emphasizing class, race, and gender privileges to organizing around other institutional and symbolic forms of political authority.

Embodying Cold War political and gendered tensions, Brazil's increasingly violent military government mounted fierce challenges to student political activity just as students were beginning to see themselves as representing an otherwise demobilized civil society. By challenging the students' political legitimacy at a pivotal moment, the dictatorship helped to ignite the student protests that exploded in 1968. In her attentive exploration of the years after 1968, Langland analyzes what the demonstrations of that year meant to later generations of Brazilian students, revealing how student activists mobilized collective memories in their subsequent political struggles.


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The Stillborn
Notebooks of a Woman from the Student-Movement Generation in Egypt
Arwa Salih
Seagull Books, 2017
Arwa Salih was a member of the political bureau of the Egyptian Communist Workers Party, which was founded in the wake of the Arab–Israeli War and the Egyptian student movement of the early 1970s. Written more than a decade after Salih quit the party and left political life—and published shortly after she committed suicide—the book offers a poignant look at, and reckoning with, the Marxism of her generation and the role of militant intellectuals in the tragic failure of both the national liberation project and the communist project in Egypt. The powerful critique in The Stillborn speaks not only to and about Salih’s own generation of left activists but also to broader, still salient dilemmas of revolutionary politics throughout the developing world in the postcolonial era.

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Strategizing against Sweatshops
The Global Economy, Student Activism, and Worker Empowerment
Matthew S. Williams
Temple University Press, 2020

For the past few decades, the U.S. anti-sweatshop movement was bolstered by actions from American college students. United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) effectively advanced the cause of workers’ rights in sweatshops around the world. Strategizing against Sweatshops chronicles the evolution of student activism and presents an innovative model of how college campuses are a critical site for the advancement of global social justice. 

Matthew Williams shows how USAS targeted apparel companies outsourcing production to sweatshop factories with weak or non-existent unions. USAS did so by developing a campaign that would support workers organizing by leveraging their college’s partnerships with global apparel firms like Nike and Adidas to abide by pro-labor codes of conduct. 

Strategizing against Sweatshops exemplifies how organizations and actors cooperate across a movement to formulate a coherent strategy responsive to the conditions in their social environment. Williams also provides a model of political opportunity structure to show how social context shapes the chances of a movement’s success—and how movements can change that political opportunity structure in turn. Ultimately, he shows why progressive student activism remains important.


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Student Activism in Asia
Between Protest and Powerlessness
Meredith L. Weiss
University of Minnesota Press, 2012

Since World War II, students in East and Southeast Asia have led protest movements that toppled authoritarian regimes in countries such as Indonesia, South Korea, and Thailand. Elsewhere in the region, student protests have shaken regimes until they were brutally suppressed—most famously in China’s Tiananmen Square and in Burma. But despite their significance, these movements have received only a fraction of the notice that has been given to American and European student protests of the 1960s and 1970s. The first book in decades to redress this neglect, Student Activism in Asia tells the story of student protest movements across Asia.

Taking an interdisciplinary, comparative approach, the contributors examine ten countries, focusing on those where student protests have been particularly fierce and consequential: China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, Burma, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. They explore similarities and differences among student movements in these countries, paying special attention to the influence of four factors: higher education systems, students’ collective identities, students’ relationships with ruling regimes, and transnational flows of activist ideas and inspirations.

The authors include leading specialists on student activism in each of the countries investigated. Together, these experts provide a rich picture of an important tradition of political protest that has ebbed and flowed but has left indelible marks on Asia’s sociopolitical landscape.

Contributors: Patricio N. Abinales, U of Hawaii, Manoa; Prajak Kongkirati, Thammasat U, Thailand; Win Min, Vahu Development Institute; Stephan Ortmann, City U of Hong Kong; Mi Park, Dalhousie U, Canada; Patricia G. Steinhoff, U of Hawaii, Manoa; Mark R. Thompson, City U of Hong Kong; Teresa Wright, California State U, Long Beach.


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Students of Revolution
Youth, Protest, and Coalition Building in Somoza-Era Nicaragua
By Claudia Rueda
University of Texas Press, 2019

Students played a critical role in the Sandinista struggle in Nicaragua, helping to topple the US-backed Somoza dictatorship in 1979—one of only two successful social revolutions in Cold War Latin America. Debunking misconceptions, Students of Revolution provides new evidence that groups of college and secondary-level students were instrumental in fostering a culture of insurrection—one in which societal groups, from elite housewives to rural laborers, came to see armed revolution as not only legitimate but necessary.

Drawing on student archives, state and university records, and oral histories, Claudia Rueda reveals the tactics by which young activists deployed their age, class, and gender to craft a heroic identity that justified their political participation and to help build cross-class movements that eventually paralyzed the country. Despite living under a dictatorship that sharply curtailed expression, these students gained status as future national leaders, helping to sanctify their right to protest and generating widespread outrage while they endured the regime’s repression. Students of Revolution thus highlights the aggressive young dissenters who became the vanguard of the opposition.


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Students of the World
Global 1968 and Decolonization in the Congo
Pedro Monaville
Duke University Press, 2022
On June 30, 1960—the day of the Congo’s independence—Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba gave a fiery speech in which he conjured a definitive shift away from a past of colonial oppression toward a future of sovereignty, dignity, and justice. His assassination a few months later showed how much neocolonial forces and the Cold War jeopardized African movements for liberation. In Students of the World, Pedro Monaville traces a generation of Congolese student activists who refused to accept the foreclosure of the future Lumumba envisioned. These students sought to decolonize university campuses, but the projects of emancipation they articulated went well beyond transforming higher education. Monaville explores the modes of being and thinking that shaped their politics. He outlines a trajectory of radicalization in which gender constructions, cosmopolitan dispositions, and the influence of a dissident popular culture mattered as much as access to various networks of activism and revolutionary thinking. By illuminating the many worlds inhabited by Congolese students at the time of decolonization, Monaville charts new ways of writing histories of the global 1960s from Africa.

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The University and Social Justice
Struggles Across the Globe
Aziz Choudry
Pluto Press, 2020
Higher education has long been contested terrain. From student movements to staff unions, the fight for accessible, critical and quality public education has turned university campuses globally into sites of struggle.

Whether calling for the decommodification or the decolonization of education, many of these struggles have attempted to draw on (and in turn, resonate with) longer histories of popular resistance, broader social movements and radical visions of a fairer world. In this critical collection, Aziz Choudry, Salim Vally and a host of international contributors bring grounded, analytical accounts of diverse struggles relating to higher education into conversation with each other.

Featuring contributions written by students and staff members on the frontline of struggles from 12 different countries, including Canada, Chile, France, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Occupied Palestine, the Philippines, South Africa, Turkey, the UK and the USA, the book asks what can be learned from these movements' strategies, demands and visions.

front cover of The University Socialist Club and the Contest for Malaya
The University Socialist Club and the Contest for Malaya
Tangled Strands of Modernity
Kah Seng Loh, Edgar Liao, Cheng Tju Lim , and Guo Quan Seng
Amsterdam University Press, 2012
Using a wealth of material including interviews, official documents, and student writings, the authors recount the rise of newly independent states in postwar Malaya and Singapore through the engagements of a left-wing group of university student activists. The University Socialist Club and the Contest for Malaya brings to life various contemporary movements, including democratic, Marxist, socialist, ethnicity-based groups which seek to influence postcolonial Malaya, as well as their fluid relationships with one another, at a time when allies became enemies, and vice versa. An original and vital study, this volume delves into the complex mental worlds and historical milieu of political and student activism.

front cover of An Unseen Unheard Minority
An Unseen Unheard Minority
Asian American Students at the University of Illinois
Sharon S. Lee
Rutgers University Press, 2022
Higher education hails Asian American students as model minorities who face no educational barriers given their purported cultural values of hard work and political passivity. Described as “over-represented,” Asian Americans have been overlooked in discussions about diversity; however, racial hostility continues to affect Asian American students, and they have actively challenged their invisibility in minority student discussions. This study details the history of Asian American student activism at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, as students rejected the university’s definition of minority student needs that relied on a model minority myth, measures of under-representation, and a Black-White racial model, concepts that made them an “unseen unheard minority.” This activism led to the creation on campus of one of the largest Asian American Studies programs and Asian American cultural centers in the Midwest. Their histories reveal the limitations of understanding minority student needs solely along measures of under-representation and the realities of race for Asian American college students.

front cover of Working for Peace and Justice
Working for Peace and Justice
Memoirs of an Activist Intellectual
Lawrence S. Wittner
University of Tennessee Press, 2012

A longtime agitator against war and social injustice, Lawrence Wittner has been tear-gassed, threatened by police with drawn guns, charged by soldiers with fixed bayonets, spied upon by the U.S. government, arrested, and purged from his job for political -reasons. To say that this teacher-historian-activist has led an interesting life is a considerable understatement.
    In this absorbing memoir, Wittner traces the dramatic course of a life and career that took him from a Brooklyn boyhood in the 1940s and ’50s to an education at Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin to the front lines of peace activism, the fight for racial equality, and the struggles of the labor movement. He details his family background, which included the bloody anti-Semitic pogroms of late-nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, and chronicles his long teaching career, which comprised positions at a small black college in Virginia, an elite women’s liberal arts college north of New York City, and finally a permanent home at the Albany campus of the State University of New York. Throughout, he packs the narrative with colorful vignettes describing such activities as fighting racism in Louisiana and Mississippi during the early 1960s, collaborating with peace-oriented intellectuals in Gorbachev’s Soviet Union, and leading thousands of antinuclear demonstrators through the streets of Hiroshima. As the book also reveals, Wittner’s work as an activist was matched by scholarly achievements that made him one of the world’s foremost authorities on the history of the peace and nuclear disarmament movements—a research specialty that led to revealing encounters with such diverse figures as Norman Thomas, the Unabomber, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Caspar Weinberger, and David Horowitz.
    A tenured professor and renowned author who has nevertheless lived in tension with the broader currents of his society, Lawrence Wittner tells an engaging personal story that includes some of the most turbulent and significant events of recent history.

Lawrence S. Wittner, emeritus professor of history at the University at Albany, SUNY, is the author of numerous scholarly works, including the award-winning three-volume Struggle Against the Bomb. Among other awards and honors, he has received major grants or fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Aspen Institute, the United States Institute of Peace, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.


front cover of Younger Than That Now
Younger Than That Now
The Politics of Age in the 1960s
Holly V. Scott
University of Massachusetts Press, 2016
Retrospectives of the 1960s routinely include the face of youth rebellion: long-haired students occupying campus buildings, young men burning draft cards, hippies dancing at Woodstock. In Younger Than That Now, Holly V. Scott explores how the idea of "youth" served as a tactic in the political and social activism of these years. In the early part of that decade, young white activists began to learn from the civil rights movement's defiance of racism. They examined their own lives and concluded that campus rules and the draft were repression as well. As a group, they were ripe for revolution, and their age gave them a unique perspective for understanding and protesting against injustice. In short, young people began to use their youth as a political strategy.

Some in the New Left were dubious of this strategy and asked how it might damage long-term progress. Young feminists and people of color were particularly quick to question the idea that age alone was enough to sustain a movement. And the media often presented young people as impulsive and naive, undermining their political legitimacy. In tracing how "youth" took on multiple meanings as the 1960s progressed, Scott demonstrates the power of this idea to both promote and hinder social change.

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