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Acknowledgments
O√ering formal thanks to the many people and institutions who have
assisted me in this project over the years is my own small act of commem-
oration: a celebration of others’ immense generosity, and, by extension, a
reflection on this book’s long history. I am thrilled to have the opportunity
to do so.
Some of the questions that first motivated this project emerged in dis-
cussions with my fellow graduate students seeking to organize a union at
Yale. As we inquired into the history of graduate students’ interactions with
the university, it became apparent that there was no organic student mem-
ory of our collective past, even of relatively recent events, since students by
definition regularly graduate or move on to other pursuits, and we realized
that this pattern led us to constantly renegotiate previously hard-earned
rights. Our fierce debates within the union about the best methods for
organizing others and institutionalizing a kind of student memory sparked
my original interest in the mechanisms and uses of cross-generational
student memory. My curiosity deepened during an exploratory research trip
to Rio de Janeiro in 1998, the thirtieth anniversary of the student protests of
1968 and a moment when the university students I met were deeply con-
cerned about both remembering the student movement past and drawing
connections to its present. As I joined them in an all-night meeting to plan
the reenactment of a famous protest march of 1968, I witnessed them
taking great pains to both learn and divulge the history of this event and the
military regime under which it took place and to tie it to the ongoing strike
at numerous federal universities. It was then that I began to consider
seriously the special constraints and importance of student memory under
conditions of dictatorship, censorship, and strict limits on civic action and
soon thereafter embarked on this book.
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