‘Like a family tree’? Memories of ’68 in the German anti-austerity movement Blockupy

(2021) In: Social Movement Studies 20 (1), S. 93–114. DOI: 10.1080/14742837.2020.1729719.


Priska Daphi & Jens Zimmermann


Recent years have seen a series of anniversaries of iconic protests. This draws attention to social movements’ long-term legacies both in terms of their impact on society at large as well as their influence on subsequent cycles of mobilization. The growing literature on the interconnections between memories and movements provides crucial insights into such legacies as it explores how movements are remembered or forgotten. The paper aims to contribute to this literature and our understanding of continuities and discontinuities between different cycles of mobilization. For this purpose, we explore how activists of a central strand of the German anti-austerity movement, Blockupy, remember the ’68 movement. Based on interviews with Blockupy activists and a media analysis, the paper shows how Blockupy activists largely share a joint memory of ’68 despite ideological and generational differences. This shared memory is characterized by recurrent patterns of mnemonic adoptions of some ’68 traits and rejection of others. At the same time, we reveal that this memory is only partly movement-specific as it overlaps with public memories in several respects. Activists however clearly reject public memories with respect to ’68’s central goals. The paper’s findings show how impacts of past movements on later activism are shaped by activists’ memories of that past and in particular by two levels of mnemonic rejection and adoption: how activists reject or adopt characteristics of a past movement and, in doing so, how they reject or adopt public memories of that movement.

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