The University as a Political Site: 1968 and Now

Gupta, Suman (2021). The University as a Political Site: 1968 and Now. European Review, 29(6) pp. 725–737.



This article offers a polemical comparison between conceptualizations of the University in the late 1960s and now. It has two main sections. The first and more substantial of these sections focuses on the left-wing student movements of the 1960s. These were underpinned by an understanding of the University as a political site: that is, an institutional formation and space structured by the ruling order. As such, the University was considered a locus of social contradictions, and could be occupied, extended and opened up, reformed, performed against the ruling order, and even abandoned or left behind. These different agendas are exemplified by drawing opportunistic lines from May 1968 in Paris to student movements in other contexts – Belgrade, Berlin, Berkeley, Tunis, Beijing, Kolkata – and back. A short section then comments on how the University has fared as a political site since. The entrenchment of managerialism, removal of policy-informing research to non-University centres, and dispersal of the University between material and digital spaces are some of the developments that are noted.

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