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The Life and Death of ACT UP/LA
Anti-AIDS Activism in Los Angeles from the 1980s to the 2000s


  • Author: Benita Roth, Binghamton University, State University of New York
  • Date Published: May 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107514171

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About the Authors
  • The Life and Death of ACT UP/LA explores the history of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, Los Angeles, part of the militant anti-AIDS movement of the 1980s and 1990s. ACT UP/LA battled government, medical, and institutional neglect of the AIDS epidemic, engaging in multi-targeted protest in Los Angeles and nationally. The book shows how appealing the direct action anti-AIDS activism was for people across the United States; as well as arguing the need to understand how the politics of place affect organizing, and how the particular features of the Los Angeles cityscape shaped possibilities for activists. A feminist lens is used, seeing social inequalities as mutually reinforcing and interdependent, to examine the interaction of activists and the outcomes of their actions. Their struggle against AIDS and homophobia, and to have a voice in their healthcare, presaged the progressive, multi-issue, anti-corporate, confrontational organizing of the late twentieth century, and deserves to be part of that history.

    • Provides the first examination of the life and death of an anti-AIDS protest organization using multiple methods of qualitative methods of archival interview and participant observation data
    • By analyzing how Los Angeles as a metroscape is different from dense urban contexts, the book examines how 'politics of place' affects organizing
    • Uses feminist intersectional theory to examine the dynamics of movement organization, so readers will understand how feminist theoretical insights apply to all social spaces
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Dense and meticulously annotated, it makes for a cumbersome, though essential, read. … Perhaps the most striking part of the book is learning how often members of ACT UP/LA were scared and frightened to participate in actions but still did.' Scottie Campbell, Watermark Online (

    'Thoroughly researched by author Benita Roth, she offers a fresh perspective and respect for the rebellious and historical work done by the men and women of ACT UP.' Bill Bliss, Rage Monthly

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107514171
    • length: 260 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 150 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • contains: 24 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Anti-AIDS activism in the 1980s and 1990s
    2. Beginning, building, and being ACT UP/LA
    3. Battling for women's issues and women's visibility in ACT UP/LA
    4. Intersectional crises in ACT UP/LA
    5. Demobilization: ACT UP/LA in the years 1992–7
    6. From streets to suits: the inside(r)s and outside(r)s of ACT UP/LA
    7. Looking back on the life and death of ACT UP/LA.

  • Author

    Benita Roth, Binghamton University, State University of New York
    Benita Roth is Professor of Sociology, History, and Women's Studies at Binghamton University, State University of New York. Her research focuses on the intersections of gender, social protest, race/ethnicity, and sexuality. Her first book Separate Roads to Feminism: Black, Chicana, and White Feminist Movements in America's Second Wave (Cambridge, 2003) won the Distinguished Book Award from the Sex and Gender Section of the American Sociological Association.

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