Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties

Presentation and discussion with author Thomas Grace

In Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties, Thomas M. Grace details how the National Guard killings of antiwar students at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, were not a mere tragic anomaly. Rather they were grounded in a tradition of student political activism that extended back to Ohio’s labor battles of the 1950s. The vast expansion of the
university after World War II brought in growing numbers of working-class enrollees from the industrial centers of northeast Ohio, members of the same demographic cohort that eventually made up the core of American combat forces in Vietnam. As the Vietnam War’s rising costs came to be felt acutely in their home communities, Kent’s students joined the growing antiwar movement and clashed with the university administration and the political conservatives who dominated county and state government in Ohio. The battle over the memory and meaning of May 4 has continued to the present day.

THOMAS M. GRACE is adjunct professor of history at Erie Community College. A 1972 graduate of Kent State University, he earned a PhD in history from SUNY Buffalo after many years as a social worker and union representative.

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We Make Our Own History: On Marxism and Social Movements

We Make Our Own History: On Marxism and Social Movements in the Twilight of Neoliberalism
Talk and Discussion with Alf Gunvald Nilsen

We live in the twilight of neoliberalism: the ruling classes can no longer rule as before, and ordinary people are no longer willing to be ruled in the old way. Pursued by global elites since the 1970s, neoliberalism is defined by dispossession and ever-increasing inequality. The refusal to continue to be ruled like this — “ya basta!” — appears in an arc of resistance stretching from rural India to the cities of the global North.

We Make Our Own History — a book co-written by Laurence Cox and Alf Gunvald Nilsen — investigates this scenario through an exploration of how social movements are forging new visions of a future beyond neoliberalism and by reclaiming Marxism as a theory born from activist experience and practice. In this talk, Alf Gunvald Nilsen will discuss some of the main arguments and ideas put forward in the book with reference to changing movement landscapes in different parts of the world-system.

Alf Gunvald Nilsen is associate professor of sociology at the University of Bergen (Norway) and Visiting Senior Researcher at the Society, Work and Development Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa). He is the author of Dispossession and Resistance in India: The River and the Rage (Routledge, 2010) and the co-editor of numerous books on social movement theory and research, including Marxism and Social Movements (Brill/Haymarket, 2013) and New Subaltern Politics: Reconceptualizing Hegemony and Resistance in Contemporary India (Oxford University Press, 2015).

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