The late 1960s witnessed a wave of youth uprisings and student protests of a rare intensity. Despite their obvious differences, students throughout the world felt that they were participating in a common movement of rebellion. Ideas, books, and people circulated widely in what the historian Geoff Eley calls the global village of late-1960s student politics. Yet, the memorialisation of these events tends to privilege some corners of that global village at the expense of others. While the role of European and American youths in challenging and changing their societies is well acknowledged, memories of the late 1960s often fail to register the fact that Third World students also inhabited the global village of protests.
Narratives about May 1968 in France are a particularly good example of the historical distortions that derive from an exclusive focus on the best-known neighbourhoods of the global village. Memories of that time often account for the transnational dimension of the event, but usually in a restrictive and limited fashion. From Turin to Amsterdam, Prague, Chicago and Berkeley, European and transatlantic dimensions often emerge. They are mentioned in reference to the French uprisings’ echoes in the various locations where students experimented with radical democratic practices and attempted to create new alliances outside of old party politics and traditional labour activism.