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Victoria Langland, "Memory Across Generations: The Meanings of 1968 in Military Brazil"

Friday, February 19, 2010
12:00 AM
1644 SSWB, International Institute

Victoria Langland is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Davis. Langland’s research focuses on the social, cultural, political and gender history of 20th century Latin America. She is currently finishing a book manuscript titled “Speaking of Flowers: Student Movements and Memories of ’68 in Military Brazil” (Duke University Press), and beginning a research project on the transnational dimensions of Alliance for Progress shantytown eradication projects in Rio de Janeiro and Caracas. She has also co-edited (with Elizabeth Jelin) Monumentos, memoriales y marcas territoriales (Siglo XXI, 2003). She received her Ph.D. in History from Yale University in 2004, and most recently (in Fall of 2009) spent a semester in residence at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame.This talk comes from my book manuscript, Speaking of Flowers: Student Movements and Memories of 1968 in Military Brazil, a study of the political, cultural and mnemonic importance of the 1968 student movements in Brazil throughout the 1964-1985 period of military rule.  In this presentation, I focus on a chain of commemorative practices in which post-1968 students paid annual homage to colleagues who had been killed by the military regime.  I argue that these events mnemonically linked different generations of students to one another and forged experiential and symbolic connections with 1968.  In so doing, student activists built upon and reinforced values of militancy and masculinity that predominated in that earlier period, even as the changing political context and agenda of the student movement also led to significant reinterpretations of the 1968 past.  For example, students came to reject the revolutionary aspirations of many of those they commemorated, reinterpreting their actions in this new period as attempts at returning to democracy.