The politics of space: student communes, political counterculture, and the Columbia University protest of 1968 Public Deposited

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  • November 20, 2020
  • Slonecker, Blake
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This thesis examines the Columbia University protest of April 1968 through the lens of space. It concludes that the student communes established in occupied campus buildings were free spaces that facilitated the protestors' reconciliation of political and social difference, and introduced Columbia students to the practical possibilities of democratic participation and student autonomy. This thesis begins by analyzing the roots of the disparate organizations and issues involved in the protest, including SDS, SAS, and the Columbia School of Architecture. Next it argues that the practice of participatory democracy and maintenance of student autonomy within the political counterculture of the communes awakened new political sensibilities among Columbia students. Finally, this thesis illustrates the simultaneous growth and factionalization of the protest community following the police raid on the communes and argues that these developments support the overall claim that the free space of the communes was of fundamental importance to the protest.
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  • In Copyright
  • Filene, Peter G.
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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