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Saved by Esther Gyan-Debrah
on February 22, 2018 at 6:42:44 am

Le Cas 68

Le Cas 68 refers to a period of time in France spanning from late March until June. It was a period of much social unrest for the country and what started as a student protest in opposition to the capitalist systems of the university transformed into one of the biggest social movements contemporary France has ever seen. 

Nearly every day during this time of protest can be marked with a significant event, and the group is going to discuss the events of 22nd March, the occupation of the administrative building which kick-started the entire movement, and 3rd May, the first riot.


Group members: Dona Ali, Esther Gyan-Debrah, Becca Hix, Kate Jenkins, Annika Weinmann




22nd March 1968

May 1968 in France is mainly known to be a student protest. It was, in its origins “a revolt against the stifling papa-knows-best conservatism, and dullness, of General Charles de Gaulle's economically booming 1960s France”. This whole protest and questioning of everything kicked off in Nanterre, a university campus in Paris, mainly for humanities and law students. 

These students have always been very vocal and politically active. In November 1967, students started a demonstration against the ‘Fouchet Plan’ (a proposed alternative to the already existing European Communities). 


Furthermore, many students were fed up with the very conservative society - e.g. no access to contraceptives or abortions, women were still very dependent on their husbands, and the university had very strict and sexist rules in place. 

         -> I'm not sure if this is necessary cause it doesn't really belong to the detailed description but I thought the quote was kinda interesting?


50 years ago, on the 22nd of March 1968, one of the most prominent events in international history began.


Students were frustrated with how their education system and society was run. These students had a great influence because at this time, there were more students than ever at French universities due to the baby boom after WW2. In 1962 – 1963, the number of students enrolled in university was 280,000. However, this number rose in 1967 – 1968 with the number of students enrolled being 605,000 (Seidman, 2004, p.18). This demographic growth gave students huge power. The French state tried to accommodate this rise in students by expanding old universities and creating new ones. One of them being the university in Nanterre. Many of the students weren’t happy with this building as it was very isolated and students felt that it was constructed without any consideration to the ‘student life’. They didn’t have any of the regular amenities nearby that students often enjoy. This is important because this also reflects how disconnected Charles de Gaulle and the politicians were from the students as well.


Students sought to challenge both societal norms and university rules. They were tired of the traditional way of life such as the fact that students couldn’t enter the rooms of the opposite sex.



On the 20th March 1968, 300 students participated in an anti-Vietnam war demonstration organized by the CVN (Comité Vietnam National). However, this protest soon turned violent, with protesters throwing stones at the windows of an American Express branch - then a symbol of American imperialism. This resulted in six students getting arrested. 


2 days later, on the 22nd March 1968, around 150 students of the University of Nanterre in Paris led by Daniel Cohn-Bendit occupied the administrative building, which was of huge symbolic importance. Their main aim was to protest the student arrests and demand their release. The “Mouvement du 22 mars” was officially born; over the next few weeks, it would grow to include over 1,200 participants.


In an interview with Le Figaro for the 40th anniversary of the events, historian Philippe Artières described the two main consequences of this day: 

Daniel Cohn-Bendit emerged as a leader of the protests and later became a symbol of May 1968. Additionally, this day marked the entrance into the student movements of May 68 and started a chain reaction: because of the student protest in the administrative building, the entire university was shut down, which in turn resulted in the occupation and police intrusion of the Sorbonne. 




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