Brussels reflects on the May 68 civil protests

All year long, the city of Brussels, together with various cultural organisations, will hold activities marking the 50 year anniversary of  May 68 civil protests that took place across France and western Europe.

Reflecting on this sentiment, what is the current situation of protesting in the Belgian capital? Do the citizens have efficient ways to put pressure on politicians and decision-makers? To these relevant questions, there is no simple answer. However, 1968 remains a key event for these ideas of protesting and revolution, although the legacy of those fights isn’t so clear or tangible.

May 68 directly refers to the events that took place in May, in France, but it did not halt there, Belgium felt the echoing effects around the country. Civil unrest at the Leuven University resulted in a secession between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking departments, splitting the university with effects still visible to this day-with the Dutch-speaking Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) in Leuven and the French-speaking Université moving to Catholique de Louvain (UCL) in Louvain-la-Neuve. This Student crisis created broader political repercussions, pressuring the Belgian government to resign.

That’s why Karine Lalieux, who is in charge of culture at the City council, decided to put together all the cultural institutions to work on “2018, year of contestation”, to reflect on the turbulence of the past and the current state of Belgian protest.

Dozens of events will then be held from January to December in roughly 20 places in Brussels. The cultural manifestations will be hosting an eclectic mix of museums, theatres and musical organisations titled Contestation, all showcasing the issues of this event and pondering the future of protest

Good to know:

Full programme for the events here