More than Mojo: Gender, Sex, and the Racialized Erotics of Global ’68

  • Deborah Cohen
  • Lessie Jo Frazier


Here we offer a transnational perspective on ’68 that takes sex, sexuality, and gender seriously. These factors are, we contend, critical to decoding the actions of rebellious youth and the elite panics that this youth activism provoked in a thoroughly racialized global arena. International dynamics of the sixties were themselves part of erotic economies of power often expressed in symbolically gendered and sexualized terms. They called attention to a modernist project premised on the global (already racialized) hierarchization of nations and peoples. National elites around the world were up in arms that the university children who had benefited from this modernizing project with the expansion of education were attempting to subvert it by flaunting its fundamental rule and engaging in cross-class and cross-racial sex. That is, the actions and rhetoric of both elites and youth reveal linkages between modernity, education, and the racialized erotics of ’68 movements. Hence, the political imaginaries animating social movements and sixties political culture writ large were gendered, sexed, racialized, and transnational. Taking racialized erotics seriously, we argue, reveals both the gendered and sexed nature of political agency, and the profound social, political, and cultural transformations many of the ’68 movements engendered. Sex, sexuality, and gender offer lenses into the workings of subjectivity, agency, memory, political cultures of the state, and contestatory social movements of the period, and show how the personal was (and still remains) political as a way of explaining ’68 as a pivotal year on a global scale.