© Emile Chabal
Prof. Dr. Emile Chabal is a Reader in History at the University of Edinburgh. His research has focused on France, especially the transformation of French politics since the 1970s, Franco-British relations in the 20th century and the legacy of postcolonialism in France. He is the author of A Divided Republic: Nation, State and Citizenship in Contemporary France (2015), the editor of France since the 1970s: History, Politics and Memory in an Age of Uncertainty
(2014), and has published articles in Contemporary European History, Geschichte und Gesellschaft and the Historical Journal.
Further details are available on his website: http://www.homepages.ed.ac.uk/echabal/
For the most part, France’s années 68 are remembered for their impact on the global left. The image of barricades and tear gas on the streets of rive gauche in Paris were a reminder of France’s special place in the left-wing imaginary as the “home” of revolution. Just as in 1789 and 1848, the évenements de mai inspired radicals everywhere and the social upheaval that followed the student protests seemed to announce an exciting new
political configuration, favourable to progressive politics.
But the festive atmosphere amongst students and workers in 1968 concealed a rather less positive political reality for the left, namely that the legislative elections of June 1968 returned the largest ever right-wing majority in modern French history (367 seats, with only 91 seats for the socialists and communists combined). This was an early indication that 1968 would also have a profound impact on the right.
This presentation, then, will trace some of the intellectual and political consequences of 1968 for the French right. In particular, it will emphasise the degree to which a right-wing reading of culture and society around 1968 led to the emergence of an “anti-68” consensus amongst conservatives and liberals. In time – and especially after the end of the Cold War – this anti-68 ideology took the place of anti-Communism, which had been a core element of right-wing thought in France since the 1920s.