Re-thinking Student Radicalism: the case of a Provincial British University

Sam Blaxland


This paper explores the 1968 moment in the British University of Swansea. It discusses four main flashpoints of protest and unrest that occurred there from 1968 to the early 1970s. Much of the evidence is drawn from local and student newspapers, which chronicled these events by watching them very closely and reporting not just on what happened but also on what students and members of the surrounding community thought about them. This is cross-referenced with small examples of the author’s oral history collection that he has compiled as part of his research. By using these sources and by taking evidence to form a broad picture, the paper suggests that, in the late 1960s, whilst the events taking place in Swansea were dramatic, they did not represent a majority of what the student body at the time thought, or how they behaved. This was partly a result of Swansea’s provincial character and its inherent social conservatism. A more crucial period, when the tone regarding student unrest really started to shift, was the early 1970s. Therefore, it is important to continue thinking of these events in terms of a «long 1968».


Provincial; universities; radicalism; conservatism; sixties; testimonies; Swansea

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DOI prefix: 10.14516/ete


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