The place of the specters (1871/1968). Calls from the past to feed the future

By Ludivine Bantigny

During the Paris Commune, much reference was made to the past, in particular to the French Revolution and the revolutions of 1830 and 1848. In May–June 1968, the Commune was very present and much cited in its turn. This article proposes to show how this way of situating oneself in time and this powerful feeling of making history by relying on events of the past contribute to an active and conscious protagonism, which reinforces commitments and gives them momentum. Through these two intertwined examples, 1871 and 1968, the article analyzes a “utopian temporality” where the aspiration to emancipation becomes a strong line of time, a kind of zeitgeist, a dominant temporal feature. The dead of the past are then specters, who in a way demand to be remembered but also demand prolonged struggles.

  • Paris Commune
  • May 1968
  • Historicity
  • Historical consciousness
  • Temporality.
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