America’s Urgent and Great Problems: Antecedents and Legacies of 1968
BAAS Postgraduate Conference 2018
3rd November 2018
Department of Arts and Humanities, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon-Tyne
“There are three urgent and indeed great problems that we face not only in the United States of America but all over the world today. That is the problem of racism, the problem of poverty and the problem of war.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
1968 was a watershed moment in American and global history. It witnessed mass social movements, student and anti-war protests, shifting racial consciousness, urban riots, and several high-profile political assassinations; a year emblematic of America’s ‘three urgent and indeed great problems’ which Martin Luther King described during his visit to Newcastle upon-Tyne a few months before his death: War, Poverty and Racism. These issues and the challenges they posed, along with other sites of conflict and inequality, including place, gender, sexuality, faith, age and dissent, are familiar throughout American history, life and culture. Marking the 50th anniversary of these momentous events, Northumbria’s BAAS Postgraduate Conference will explore the urgency and gravity of King’s challenges, and the antecedents and legacies of 1968, in the broader American landscape.
BAAS postgraduates will have the opportunity to address epochs leading up to 1968 and how the crises and challenges King mapped out still resonate today. How have imperialism, violence and transnational relations characterised the United States? In what ways does the intersection of class, locality and inequality define American culture and politics? Why do notions of identity, acts of oppression, and dynamic struggle continue to dominate the contemporary era? Where does 1968 sit in our understanding of the American nation; how was the year presaged, and continued to be reinterpreted and memorialised? How do scholars methodologically approach problem-making, problematising, and problem-solving in their research?