International Journal of Communication Publishes a Special Section on Unsettled Debts: 1968 and the Problem of Historical Memory

International Journal of Communication Publishes a Special Section on Unsettled Debts: 1968 and the Problem of Historical Memory

How might scholars of communication orient to the contested past in order to foster decisive action in the present?

Back in 2018, the 50th anniversary of 1968 gave rise to a small industry devoted to commemoration. Scholars and journalists revisited that year’s insurgencies in dozens of essays and books, activists paid tribute to its emancipatory legacy in the streets, and companies exploited it on our screens. In one egregious display, Dodge Ram used an excerpt from a 1968 speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., to narrate a Super Bowl truck commercial. Within hours, a hijacked version of the ad began circulating online, featuring the same speech but using an alternate excerpt, in which King denounced consumer society. Such correctives defend the radicalism of an era that is distant yet reverberant.

With each correction, however, we are reminded that history is more than a record for us to set straight. It is a process of production in which we participate, where even our principled longings in the present can become obstacles to confronting our co-implication with the past.

Guest-edited by Clare O’Connor and featuring a Foreword by Robin D.G. Kelley, this Special Section on Unsettled Debts: 1968 and the Problem of Historical Memory considers how we might revisit the “spirit of ’68” without succumbing to distorted forms of memory such as nostalgia and myth. Based on the proceedings of a 2018 conference dedicated to this theme, the essays in this Section analyze media objects and moments from 1968 that have been activated in the service of contemporary social movements, obscured through superficial citation, or omitted from the dominant record altogether.

We invite you to read these articles that published in the International Journal of Communication on October 5, 2022. Please log into to read the papers of interest. We look forward to your feedback! 


Unsettled Debts: 1968 and the Problem of Historical Memory—Foreword 
Robin D. G. Kelley

Unsettled Debts: 1968 and the Problem of Historical Memory—Introduction  
Clare O’Connor

“Thái Bình Means Peace”: (Re)positioning South Vietnamese Exchange Students’ Activism in the Asian American Movement  
Ly Thúy Nguyễn 

Con Che? The Specter of Communism in the 1968 Chicano Blowouts 
Magally Miranda, Efren Michael Lopez

The American Indian Movement and the Politics of Nostalgia: Indigenous Representation From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock  
Clementine Bordeaux

Reborn as Fida’i: The Palestinian Revolution and the (Re)Making of an Icon  
Loubna Qutami 

Lost in Citation: Afterlives of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike  
Clare O’Connor 

The Limits of Smooth Legacies: 1968, Feminist History, and the Tradition of Athlete Activism: An Interview With Amira Rose Davis  
Courtney M. Cox 

Afterlives of Tlatelolco: Memory, Contested Space, and Collective Imagination  
Paulina Lanz

Once Lost, Painfully Present: Maya Angelou’s Blacks, Blues, Black! (1968)
Adrien Sebro 

The Sociotechnical Imaginaries of 1968 
Andrea Alarcon, Soledad Altrudi, Frances Corry, MC Forelle

Larry Gross, Editor
Arlene Luck, Founding Managing Editor  
Kady Bell-Garcia, Managing Editor
Chi Zhang, Managing Editor, Special Sections
Clare O’Connor, Guest Editor

Please note that according to the latest Google Scholar statistics, IJoC ranks 9th among all Humanities journals and 9th among all Communications journals in the world — demonstrating the viability of open access scholarly publication at the highest level.