The Variants of 1968 Radicalism: Ousmane Sembene and Larisa Shepitko


The Variants of 1968 Radicalism:  Ousmane Sembene and Larisa Shepitko 

This paper uses two moments, the 1967 International Moscow Film Festival and the 1975 UNESCO Symposium on Women’s Cinema, and the careers of two film directors, Senegalese Ousmane Sembene and Ukrainian Larisa Shepitko, to show how Third and Second World activists mobilized seemingly irreconcilable variants of radicalism circulating around the 1968 moment—postcolonial, feminist, and Soviet dissident politics. In different ways, Sembene and Shepitko critically negotiated geopolitical roles assigned to them by states and political movements. Sembene used his Soviet film training, connections, and financial support to further his pan-African organizing. Shepitko deployed her Western label of a “woman director” to articulate Soviet dissident—and gender—politics to feminist and leftist radicals in Western Europe and North America. Their two intersecting journeys allow us to imagine a common critical discourse that would take advantage of variants of radicalism across historical and contemporary West, (Post-)Soviet “East,” and Global South.


Elena Razlogova is an associate professor of history at Concordia University in Montréal. She is the author of The Listener’s Voice: Early Radio and the American Public (2011) and co-editor of “Radical Histories in Digital Culture” an issue of Radical History Review (2013). She has published articles on U.S. radio history, music recommendation algorithms, and film translation in the Soviet Union. She was an executive producer on a digital project Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives. She is currently working on a history of simultaneous film translation and transnational networks at Soviet film festivals.