Action = Vie

A History of AIDS Activism and Gay Politics in France

Christophe BroquaWith a Foreword by David M. Halperin
Book Cover

HC: $125.00
EAN: 978-1-4399-0320-9
Publication: Jan 20

Ebook: $125.00
EAN: 978-1-4399-0322-3
Publication: Jan 20

340 pages
6 x 9

Chronicling the history and accomplishments of Act Up-Paris

Read the Introduction (pdf).

Description

Act Up–Paris became one of the most notable protest groups in France in the mid-1990s. Founded in 1989, and following the New York model, it became a confrontational voice representing the interests of those affected by HIV through openly political activism. Action = Vie, the English-language translation of Christophe Broqua’s study of the grassroots activist branch, explains the reasons for the French group’s success and sheds light on Act Up’s defining features—such as its unique articulation between AIDS and gay activism.

Featuring numerous accounts by witnesses and participants, Broqua traces the history of Act Up–Paris and shows how thousands of gay men and women confronted the AIDS epidemic by mobilizing with public actions. Act Up–Paris helped shape the social definition not only of HIV-positive persons but also of sexual minorities. Broqua analyzes the changes that have accompanied the group’s history, from the emergence of new treatments for HIV infection to normalizing homosexuality and a controversy involving HIV-positive writers’ remarks about unprotected sex. This rousing history ends in the mid-2000s before HIV/AIDS normalization and marriage equality caused Act Up–Paris to decline.

Reviews

In this thoughtful and comprehensive account, Christophe Broqua explains how Act Up–Paris become a leader in the global fight against the injustices of the AIDS epidemic—and how an iconic organization remade the landscape of gay politics in France. Action = Vie conveys the novelty of Act Up’s styles of protest and the urgency that infused its analysis and actions. But it also captures the specificity of the French experience with a devastating epidemic.”—Steven Epstein, Professor of Sociology and John C. Shaffer Professor in the Humanities at Northwestern University and author of Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge

Table of Contents

Foreword to the English-Language Edition by David M. Halperin
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations

Introduction

1. From the Gay Movement to the Fight against AIDS
Gay Mobilization before AIDS
The “Homophile” Movement
The Revolutionary Movement
Liberation Groups and Reformist Groups
Early Signs of AIDS Mobilization
The First Generation of AIDS Organizations
Protests and Public Expression of HIV-Positive Status
Emergence of Organizations of HIV-Positive Persons
HIV-Positive Status and Gay Demands

2. The Birth and Rise of Act Up
Didier Lestrade: A Path
An Imported Model: AIDS Activism in the United States
Larry Kramer: Founder or Leader?
Claiming a Legacy
Creation of Act Up–Paris
Conversions to Activism
Revelations
Interorganizational Positions
Media Relations
Rationales for Public Exposure and Journalistic Habitus
Firsthand Accounts, AIDS Organizations, and the Media

3. A Theory of AIDS
The Political Etiology of AIDS
The Ghost of Foucault
Act Up and Michel Foucault: An Unexpected Connection?
An Indirect Influence (1)
“Biopower” and the Fight against AIDS: An Unsettling Analogy
An Indirect Influence (2)
A Positional Rejection or an Illegitimate Legacy?
Act Up versus Literary Representations of AIDS

4. Gay Politics
The “Homosexualization” of AIDS under Debate
Constructing a Collective Identity
AIDS from the “Point of View” of Homosexuality
Building a Community
HIV-Positive Gay Identity as a Frame of Reference
Hierarchies of Experience and Identification
Act Up’s Gay Image
Act Up and the Gay Pride March
Gay Activists and the Fight against AIDS

5. Reconciling the Experiences of Homosexuality and AIDS through Activism
Sexual Orientations and Proximities to AIDS
Social and Sociosexual Backgrounds
Degrees of Proximity to the Epidemic and Motives for Engagement
Gay Trajectories
Robin
Thomas
Socialization Effects
Paths of Gay Socialization
Bridging the Experiences of Homosexuality and AIDS
Ambivalences in the Recognition of People with HIV

6. The Rationale for Public Action
Strategic Emotions
Uses of Violence
Violence according to Act Up
Violence Attributed to Activists
Experiencing Violence versus Inflicting Violence
Self-Inflicted Violence

7. Activism, Grief, and Memory Politics
A “Grieving Machine”?
Act Up and Memorial Practices
Political Uses of Death and Memory
Naming the Deceased
Simulating Death
Political Funerals
Competing Memories
References to the History of Homosexuals
The Pink Triangle
Holocaust References

8. The Emergence of Hope and Redefinition of Activism
Act Up’s Response to Advances in Treatment
The First Sidaction and Its Impact
The Second Sidaction and Its Impact
Revival of Act Up’s Gay Politics
The Fight for Recognition of Same-Sex Couples
The Threat of Outing
A New Identity?
A Paradigm Shift: From Despair to Hope
Hope versus Despair
Hope and Memory
Act Up’s Dissolution under Debate
The Tenth Anniversary

9. Act Up and the Bareback Controversy
The Controversy
Books as Mirrors (1996–1999)
The Activist Offensive (1999–2000)
The Conflict Escalates (2000–2004)
Conditions and Key Issues
Evolution of Sexual Behaviors
Disengagement and Positioning Strategies
The Inexhaustible U.S. Model
The President’s Position
A Threatening Closeness
Barebacking as an Instrumental Frontier
Communitarianism as an Implicit Frontier
Competing Legitimacies
Transmission as an End and a Means
Splits

10. Changing Representations of Homosexuality
Resurgence of Gay Mobilization
The Fight against AIDS and Gay Socialization
Specializations of Identity and Struggles for Recognition
Toward the Normalization of Homosexuality?
Between Normalization and Dissidence
The Freaks’ Parable
The U.S. Queer Movement against Assimilation
Act Up, the Queer Movement, and Normalization in France
Fantasy of the Murderous Gay
The HIV-Positive Gay as a Model
Activism and Imagination as Catharsis

Conclusion

Notes
References
Index

About the Author(s)

Christophe Broqua is a socio-anthropologist at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS; French National Centre for Scientific Research) in France.


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