Challenging the Terms of Order: Representations of the Detroit Rebellions, 1967–1968

  • Jordan T. Camp Camp


While many analysts have commented on the representation of 1968 campus events and antiwar demonstrations, less attention has been paid to the global significance of the dramatic struggles in industrial Detroit during the period. The meanings of events in the city were intensely fought over. As Stuart Hall, Chas Critcher, Tony Jefferson, John Clarke, and Brian Roberts observed, the events of 1968 were “an act of collective will, the breaks and ruptures stemming from the rapid expansion in the ideology, culture and civil structures of the new capitalism . . . in the form of a ‘crisis of authority.’” In Detroit the crisis of authority was expressed in the form of popular political struggles against racism, state violence, and the contradictions of life in the industrial capitalist city. This article asks and answers the following research questions about the struggle over the meaning of this decisive turning point in US history: What was the relationship between racial ordering, uneven capitalist development, and mass antiracist and class struggles? How did Black working-class organic intellectuals resist and alter hegemonic definitions of the situation? How are the dialectics of insurgency and counterinsurgency to be best theorized during this precise historical conjuncture?