STUDENT RESISTANCE: A History of the Unruly Subject
Release date: 07/01/2001
Whether facing down tanks in Tiananmen Square or police gunfire at Kent State, student protestors are best known for isolated, symbolic gestures. But student activism has often been a force for profound social and political transformation. Beginning in the Middle Ages, with the formation of the first European universities, this international history of student resistance surveys 500 years of student activism in Asia, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and the United States. American readers may be startled by the role that students in other countries have played in overthrowing governments, from the 1950s downfall of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista to Czechoslovakia's 1989 Velvet Revolution. Material on the 1960s will be familiar to many readers, but few are knowledgeable about the explosion of activism at Latin American universities in the early 20th century or the violence at Bangladeshi schools in the 1990s. The book's last chapter, on recent developments, is—perhaps inevitably, given the volatility of its subject—already out of date. Boren, who teaches English at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, mentions the current anti-sweatshop movement and graduate-student unions on U.S. campuses, but neglects the many other recent student/labor alliances, including students' attempts to win better pay and work conditions for low-wage workers on their campuses. Most of the narrative reads like a simple time line of events, and Boren offers too little analysis or commentary. Still, he's written a useful and much-needed resource on student protest. (July 1)
Forecast:The recent upsurge in U.S. student activism should provoke interest in this book, but due to its academic subtitle and Boren's dry writing, it's not likely to find an audience beyond the campus.