Les événements de mai 68 (the events of May ’68) or Mai 68 (May ’68) refer to the socio-political and cultural contestation that took place in France between May and June, 1968. Student protests at universities in Nantes, Brest and Nanterre were eventually joined by a general strike involving some 10 million workers, nearly 20 percent of the population. While the movement, or events, which lasted nearly 6 weeks failed to transform the state, it did have an indelible impact on French society, forever changing the social space and opening up a terrain for new social movements.
As May ’68 approaches its fiftieth anniversary, the Mai 68: Library Research Guide created by Claude Potts, Librarian for Romance Language Collections, serves as a starting point for interdisciplinary research of all levels into this specific historical moment and also commemorates the ways the movement opened up a broader discourse into social emancipation, including feminism, anti-racism, ecology, and gay rights. As home to the Free Speech Movement and the first large-scale protest against the Vietnam War in 1964, UC Berkeley has a special connection with May ’68, and the depth of our library collection on the topic is a testament to that transatlantic link.