1st Edition

RePlacing Citizenship
AIDS Activism and Radical Democracy

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ISBN 9781572302228
Published October 23, 1997 by Guilford Press
222 Pages

USD $30.00

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Book Description

This text uses an ethnographic study of one gay community's responses to AIDS to illustrate a radical democratic understanding of citizenship in contemporary society. Analysing specific forms of AIDS organizing and activism in Vancouver, British Columbia - from ACT UP to visiting buddy programmes - Brown explores the alternative spaces of political action that have formed in locations where state, civil society and family overlap. Instead of the traditional view of citizenship as a formal unchanging relationship between individual and state, he proposes that citizenship is more productively discerned in everyday acts and in the actual places we live our lives. Contributing to queer theory and theories of radical democracy, this book claims to bring abstract concepts down to earth with its nuanced portrait of the survival strategies of a community under siege.

Table of Contents

Foreword, Cindy Patton
1. "New Spaces" of Radical Citizenship
2. AIDS and the Gay Community in Vancouver
3. Radical Citizenship in Civil Society?: ACTing UP in Vancouver
4. From Civil Society to State Apparatus: Shifting Spaces in the Voluntary Sector
5. From the Home to the State: "Just Being There" as a Buddy
6. From Family to Civil Society: Citizenship at the Quilt Display
7. Conclusion: Where Has the Citizen Gone?

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Michael P. Brown, Ph.D., is Lecturer in Geography at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts and attended Clark University and the University of British Columbia. His research interests are in urban political and cultural geography.


"Michael Brown breaks new ground in the field of political philosophy by situating radical democracy in a practical context. By synthesizing discussions of radical democracy, postmodern geography, and AIDS in a single work, Brown addresses the now-common critique of radical democracy as an abstract or utopian discourse. Examining the sort of `new politics spaces' surrounding AIDS care provides exactly the kind of specificity that critics of radical democracy are demanding. Brown's book is an excellent resource for individual readers and those in college-level courses looking for a way to discuss the ideas of radical democracy in an applied context." --David Trend, Editor of Radical Democracy: Identity, Citizenship, and the State; Dean, Creative Arts Division, De Anza College, Author of the forthcoming book, Cultural Democracy: Politics/Identity/New Media

"In this unsentimental yet moving book, Michael P. Brown perceptively charts a new political geography of citizenship. His account draws together abstract political theory and detailed empirical research to show how responses to the AIDS crisis in Vancouver have blurred the boundaries between the conventionally separate realms of state, civil society and family and challenged traditional interpretations of citizenship. By bringing both an ethnographic sensitivity and an geographical imagination to his study of the politics of AIDS, Brown illuminates both the possibilities and the limitations of the project of 'radical democracy.' RePlacing Citizenship opens up the study and the practice of urban politics to a new spatial awareness, and serves as an eloquent testimony to the courage of those living with and dying from AIDS." --Joe Painter, Ph.D., Lecturer in Geography, University of Durham, UK

"In his participant-observation study of specific AIDS groups and events in Vancouver, Brown lays the groundwork for a new way of understanding the relationship between subjectivities and the state....For Brown, 'just being there' for a sick buddy or at the moveable memorial AIDS quilt can express a deep and radical democracy: the bedside of a woman or man rejected by family and the exhibition halls and lawns where the AIDS quilt temporarily sits are both postmodern spaces in which affect reemerges as a central modality of citizenship....Brown has opened the door to a very different way of imagining and acting on the hybrid spaces that we fragmentarily inhabit, and only transiently control. Like the frame-shattering work of early gender performance theorists, Brown is among those whose work demands that we think and do politics differently." --from the Foreword by Cindy Patton