‘1968’ has become synonymous with a period of revolt and rebellion that swept the globe in the period stretching from the mid-60s to the mid-70s. In recent years, ‘1968 studies’ have been increasingly focussed on the transnationalism of the period with an ever-growing list of countries being added to those thought of having experienced a “68”.
The general consensus that has emerged is that any area’s experience in 1968 must be understood in the wider international context of the time. Whilst the geographical optic has continued to widen, noticeable has been the virtual absence of Northern Ireland in the emergent transnational collective memory. Northern Ireland did indeed experience a set of events that very much resembled what happened elsewhere. This erroneous absence from the dominant narrative is not to be understood as a result of it being a case apart. Instead, consideration must be given Northern Ireland’s divergent post-68 afterlife known as the Troubles which effectively buried the memory of the province’s 1968.
This paper will argue that the current peace-time context in Northern Ireland has paved the way to right the wrong that is its marginalisation from the transnational memory of 1968. It will conclude with an overview of an ongoing project between Chris Reynolds and the Ulster Museum in Belfast aimed at recovering the ‘buried’ memory of Northern Ireland’s 1968.
There will be an exhibition on display in the Pathfoot Crush Hall (from 24th February till 4th March) to accompany this lecture.
Chris Reynolds is Associate Professor of Contemporary French and European Studies at Nottingham Trent University. His main research interests are in relation to the events of 1968 from a French, Northern Irish and European perspective. In addition to a wide range of articles and chapters on these topics, he is the author of Memories of May’68: France’s Convenient Consensus (University of Wales Press, 2011) and Sous les pavés…The Troubles: Northern Ireland, France and the European Collective Memory of 1968 (Peter Lang, 2015). Chris has been leading a significant project with the Ulster Museum on the question of Northern Ireland’s 1968.