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

342 pages
6 x 9

Chronicling the history and accomplishments of Act Up-Paris


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.


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

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.