Theses Doctoral

The Sounds of Furious Living: Everyday Unorthodoxies in an Era of AIDS

Kelly, Matthew Donald

This dissertation seeks to expand our understanding of AIDS activism by adding to the historical register the stories of individuals who engaged in everyday acts of protest through their endorsement of unorthodox etiological and therapeutic responses to the disease. By focusing on the histories of two poorly understood New York City based organizations – the People with AIDS Coalition (PWAC) and Health Education AIDS Liaison (HEAL) – it both supplements and challenges scholarship which has to date focused predominately on the public protests organized by the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). Resisting a common scholarly bias that masks and marginalizes unorthodox, everyday acts of resistance, I map the larger sociocultural currents that gave birth to and sustained their expression amongst individuals living with, responding to, and dying from AIDS in New York City through the 1980s and 1990s. In so doing, I strive to achieve a true social history of AIDS better able to capture diverse expressions of patient resistance than those organized about professional norms and institutional taxonomies. It is my hope that its methodology and conclusions may not only deepen our understanding of the late 20th Century’s most studied epidemic disease, but indeed more broadly inform historical scholarship investigating patient engagement with other infectious and chronic diseases.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociomedical Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Bayer, Ronald
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 17, 2017