The countercultural new left “Down Under”: student activism at the university of New England, Australia

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Key to the influential idea of a “global Sixties” has been a rich scholarship addressing the global orientation and sensibility of student and youth movements in disparate locations and the connections between them. Research exploring the diffusion across national borders of radical ideas and strategies, however, has tended to focus on large, urban centers at the expense of rural and regional spaces. This article draws on a case study of student activism at the small, largely-residential University of New England in rural Armidale, New South Wales: a location apparently marginal to Australia’s–and the world’s–long Sixties. It argues that close attention to the particularism of activism on this tiny regional campus provides a potent illustration of the ways in which global ideas took root, not only in metropolitan centers but also in regions often assumed to be defined by relative isolation. Focusing on a recurring theme in the story of Sixties’ dissent–the relationship between the New Left and the counterculture–the article demonstrates how decentering the national story of Australian student activism also powerfully reinforces the global character of the Sixties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-204
Number of pages27
JournalThe Sixties
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • New left
  • counterculture
  • Australia
  • student activism
  • University of New England (UNE)
  • Socialist Action Movement (SAM)

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