Unsettled Debts: 1968 and the Problem of Historical Memory| Con Che? The Specter of Communism in the 1968 Chicano Blowouts

Magally Miranda, Efren Michael López


The influence of communist politics is underemphasized in the historical record of the 1968 Chicano Blowouts. Much like news media at the time, official histories mischaracterize the Blowouts as having been either completely spontaneous or thoroughly entrenched in the politics of representation and reform. Drawing on archival documents, oral histories, and critical research, this study uncovers the communist presence in the movement and demonstrates how activists of the period navigated this presence amid virulent Cold War anticommunism. Using the “specter of communism” as a methodological heuristic, we excavate the margins of the archive: overlooked pamphlets, moments in oral histories, and personal accounts and interviews. We show how Marxist materialist analysis can be brought to bear on archival gaps and silences, and thereby highlight the liberatory potential of activist archival research.


archive, Chicano Blowouts, Cold War, communism, New Left, repression, social movements, specter

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