This essay critically approaches the use of “1968” as a periodizing category by contrasting historiographic and political debates on the event and aftermath of the French May with the spatial and temporal unevenness that attaches to Italy’s “long” 1968. We explore two interlocking dimensions of the latter: the reprise of the “Southern question” in the midst of this sociopolitical upheaval, on the one hand, and the potent if enigmatic image of an Italian “creeping May,” on the other. A political and historiographic reflection on the Italian case suggests the need to dislocate a linear, if punctuated, periodization of 1968, and to move toward an understanding of the crises and movements that cluster around this date through a framework anchored around the notion of rhythm conceived as the site of political and spatial unevenness.
Wrong Place, Right Time: ’68 and the Impasses of Periodization
Evan Calder Williams teaches at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. He is the author of Combined and Uneven Apocalypse (2011), Shard Cinema (2017), and two forthcoming books, The Negative Archive (2019) and Manual Override: A Theory of Sabotage (2020). He is a founding member of the research and moving image collective 13BC and an editor of Viewpoint Magazine.
Alberto Toscano is reader in critical theory and codirector of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea (2nd ed., 2017) and (with Jeff Kinkle) Cartographies of the Absolute (2015). He edits the Italian List book series for Seagull Books and sits on the editorial board of Historical Materialism.
Evan Calder Williams, Alberto Toscano; Wrong Place, Right Time: ’68 and the Impasses of Periodization. Cultural Politics 1 November 2019; 15 (3): 273–288. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-7725423
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