In Dublin today, an intensifying housing crisis is provoking a dramatic public response. Activists, spearheaded by groups like Dublin Central Housing Action, occupy empty properties, draping banners from windows sarcastically proclaiming “10,000 welcomes from 10,000 homeless.” They organize tenants to contest illegal evictions, door knocking in neighborhoods where renters are precariously subject to landlord whim. They research property registers and records, and in guerilla blogs such as “Slumleaks,” they shine a light on negligent landlords who hoard properties and leave them derelict. They march through historic city streets—canyons of Georgian brick and wet pavement—disrupting traffic and chanting, “Housing is a human right.”
Fifty years after student protests shook much of the Cold War world, in the “West” and in the “East,” “Global 1968” has become the catchphrase to describe these profound generational revolts. West Berlin, Paris, and Berkeley spring to mind prominently, and most memorable behind what was then the Iron Curtain were the events of the Prague Spring. For most commentators and scholars, these events in the Global North appear to have constituted “Global 1968.”
The period from 1968 to 1981 witnessed the development of a medium that carried on the tradition of direct cinema and cinema verité but with radically different form and content—that of community video making. The year 1968 marks the earliest known use of portable video equipment in the United Kingdom for community aims in a period of legendary cultural activism. But 1981 saw the development of the Workshop Agreement1, Channel 4, and the new conservative government in the United Kingdom, rendering much of the work taken up by community video groups impossible to continue.