This edited collection brings together scholarship from established and emerging scholars in HIV/AIDS studies, French studies, Visual Arts, and Dance. As French writers and artists from the past five to ten years have been revisiting the AIDS crisis and its attendant cultural amnesia, their work has brought about the necessity of foregrounding vulnerability, exposure, risk, citizenship, and trauma when considering disease. By way of probing “rawness” and its varying iterations, this volume gathers analyses of HIV/AIDS productions from the 1980s to today in the service of excavating lessons learned by those living in proximity to disease. These lessons provide important tools to understand and discuss both the ongoing HIV and SARS-CoV-2 pandemics. The volume thus highlights the specificities of the former while offering solutions on how to discuss and mitigate the latter.
Loïc Bourdeau is associate professor of French and francophone studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
V. Hunter Capps is postdoctoral fellow and visiting assistant professor at the University at Buffalo.
Introduction: Revisiting Sites of Rawness, Queerness, and Vulnerability
Loïc Bourdeau and V. Hunter Capps
Chapter One: Transmitting It: Rawness and the Politics of HIV/AIDS Witnessing Today
Chapter Two: Raw Writing: AIDS Autofiction and the Construction of Seropositive Subjectivity
V. Hunter Capps
Chapter Three: Kindling Kinships: Sexual Citizenship and Queer Constructions of Masculinity in the Works of Erik Rémès
Daniel. N. Maroun
Chapter Four: Covering Up: Condomless Sex, (Ir)responsibility, and Risk in France
Chapter Five: “C’est Votre Choix” or, Private Identities and Public Militancy in the Second Decade of the AIDS Epidemic in France: The Case of Gay Porn Magazine Projet X
Chapter Six: Viral Dances: Moving in Times of a Pandemic
Chapter Seven: State of Sexual Exception: SARS-CoV-2, HIV, and Sexual Citizenship in Pandemic Times
Chapter Eight: Interview with Nicholas Giguère and Kevin Lambert
John Ashburn and Loïc Bourdeau
About the Contributors
Such a well-conceived, trenchant, carefully balanced collection. These essays explicitly interrogate the Western "response to" — better termed, engagements with — HIV/AIDS and its contingencies, rebooting our knowledge and assumptions about all the topics it brings to the fore: social divisions, the ontology of politics and risk, cultural transfer, and the ongoing public trial of sex. From theory to public education, from hardcore porn to dance and TikTok, a treasury of materials bespeaks the impact these struggles have made on our culture, as these essays and interviews rove gracefully but probingly through it. The specifics of language, national contexts, and the vexed positions of gay writing thread deftly and provocatively through these compelling texts.
Bringing together new, cutting-edge research into cultural narratives and testimonies of the HIV/AIDS crisis, Loïc Bourdeau’s and V. Hunter Capps’s important collection Revisiting HIV/AIDS in French Culture: Raw Matters is a timely, dynamic, and interdisciplinary exploration of what it means to study HIV/AIDS today, in a time when the current COVID-19 public health crisis seems to be ‘[reopening] an old wound’ in France, demanding that the traumas, histories and voices of HIV/AIDS past and present are heard, honoured and studied with renewed urgency. The book invites us to explore the specificity of the political, cultural, queer experience and legacy of the HIV/AIDS crisis through introducing us to a compelling new conception of "rawness." This rawness seeks to conceptualise the ways in which unmitigated vulnerability and unprocessed trauma are expressed and witnessed in cultural productions stemming from the beginning of the crisis to its continuing shockwaves. This work offers rich concepts and frameworks with which to help us "to connect past and present, to continue to unearth voices, lived experiences, and lessons that can help us shape a better future."
Revisiting HIV/AIDS in French Culture: Raw Matters is an important intervention in HIV/AIDS studies in the French cultural context. Far from simply referring to unprotected sex, in this volume, ‘raw’ is a way of talking about wounds and emotions, writing and reading, risk and virality, present, past, and future. By revisiting the HIV/AIDS epidemic through those ‘raw’ lenses at a time when the epidemic has not yet reached its end and COVID-19 is raging, this volume forces us to rethink queerness, identity, subjectivity, and citizenship.