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Building a queer counter-memory
Agata Dziuban, Eugen Januschke, Ulrike Klöppel, Todd Sekuler, and Justyna Struzik

Mobilising a queer theoretical framework, by which we mean embracing unhappiness, ephemerality, and instability, this chapter reflects on processes of archiving oral histories as part of the European HIV/AIDS Archive (EHAA). It presents selected challenges and tensions that lie at the heart of remembering, narrating, and archiving the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the broader European region. The EHAA, an online collection of oral history interviews and digitised materials, has been developed to further establish HIV/AIDS history as part of the broader social memory, so as to work through the trauma of mass death and social discrimination and to document innovations, tensions, and inconsistencies in engaging with the epidemic across the region.

Building on a growing interest in archiving histories of HIV activism across Europe and North America, the EHAA project dates back to efforts by the ‘AIDS History into Museums Working Group’ to preserve such histories in Germany. The project was further developed and expanded in two research projects: ‘Disentangling European HIV/AIDS Policies: Activism, Citizenship and Health’ and ‘Don’t Criminalize Passion! The AIDS Crisis and Political Mobilization in the 1980s and early 1990s in Germany’.

Explicitly deviating from an investment in offspring as a route for the transmission of memory, the EHAA joins other queer archival work imagined as sites for handing down queer history. This chapter argues that the EHAA contributes to queer memory work as a necessary revision of public remembrance and current perceptions of the epidemic, and, at the same time, as a source of inspiration for future activism.

in Histories of HIV/AIDS in Western Europe
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Nurses’ perspectives on their work during the United Kingdom HIV/AIDS crisis, 1981–96
Tommy Dickinson, Nathan Appasamy, Lee P. Pritchard, and Laura Savidge

As part of the United Kingdom’s response to the escalating HIV/AIDS crisis during the 1980s, special wards and community-based services were established to care for people living with HIV/AIDS (PWHA).  Much of the pioneering and innovative care developed at these centres can be attributed to nurses. However, UK nursing history has hitherto neglected to tell their stories. This chapter rectifies this omission by drawing on a wealth of source material including previously unseen, enlightening, and frequently moving oral histories, as well as archival and news media sources, to explore the actions and perceptions of the UK nurses who cared for PWHA, alongside the reflections of PWHA and their loved ones who received this care.

This chapter reveals how assertive PWHA took control of their own care, often becoming experts on their condition – a phenomenon that challenged ideas of medical paternalism by reclaiming decision-making power in the name of the patient.  We explore questions of ethics and socialisation by analysing how nurses were similarly tasked with deciding what actions were permissible in times of crisis – decisions made along the frequently blurred lines that this crisis drew between private and professional lives. Appreciating the personal draw that HIV/AIDS care had to nurses who identified as queer in particular, and the sense of duty this often evoked, offered a meaningful way of interpreting the research gathered for this chapter.  Last, this makes an important contribution to the documented history of nurses’ experiences and constructions of the care of individuals belonging to stigmatised groups.

in Histories of HIV/AIDS in Western Europe
Collecting and curating the history of HIV/AIDS
Manon S. Parry and

In recent years there has been a resurgence of museum exhibitions on the history of HIV/AIDS. While many assumed that there was enough awareness of the historical significance of this new disease to ensure the careful collection and conservation of relevant material, it is increasingly clear that a narrow range of items have been saved. As historians and curators turn to these holdings for analysis and exhibition, they find that archival and museum collections inadequately represent the impact of HIV/AIDS across diverse groups and places.

This chapter considers some of the factors that have shaped museum responses to HIV/AIDS, from the accession of objects to the framing of narratives. It discusses the role of national contexts and pays close attention to the role of Dutch self-image in the framing of HIV/AIDS history there as a story of consensus and success, and the implications of this for museums and exhibitions in the Netherlands. Analysis draws on ongoing discussions with Dutch curators and a workshop with curators from museums across Europe, as well as an exhibition in Amsterdam at the International AIDS Society conference there in July 2018. This chapter highlights some of the issues that have limited museum collections and explores the potential consequences for public history. It argues that the current situation is problematic not only because archives and museum objects fuel inaccurate perceptions of the past about who was as risk and why, but also because these histories feed into responses to HIV/AIDS – and Covid-19 – in the present.

in Histories of HIV/AIDS in Western Europe
Hannah J. Elizabeth

Edinburgh was disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS in the early 1980–1990s, and women and children were affected in higher numbers there than elsewhere in the UK. Edinburgh’s AIDS crisis also followed a different pattern, with new infections predominantly occurring among IV drug users and heterosexuals. Because of the high rates of HIV infection among women in Edinburgh, the city rapidly became host to numerous charities and organisations scrambling to meet the needs of HIV-affected women and families, aiming to prevent new infections and meet the emotional, medical, housing, and educational needs of those already affected by the virus.

This chapter traces how healthcare workers and HIV-affected women responded in Edinburgh. This was interdisciplinary collaborative AIDS activism born out of the daily fight for resources, information, space, and empathetic treatment for women and their families. This activism can be traced in texts both academic and creative, and was at the very least a backdrop for many women’s experience of HIV and AIDS in Edinburgh in the late twentieth century. To focus the analysis, the creation of the Paediatric AIDS Resource Centre (PARC) in Edinburgh is examined, alongside some of the items the centre published. The need for PARC is demonstrated not just by placing it in its social, political, and historical context, but by recovering the words of HIV-affected women and healthcare workers drawing on its resources, writing these women back into the history they created as subjects rather than objects.

in Histories of HIV/AIDS in Western Europe
Janet Weston

As the AIDS crisis emerged, prisons were quickly identified as possible ‘reservoirs of infection’, where injecting drug use, sex between men, violence, and poor hygiene might all contribute towards the spread of HIV. Some countries moved to introduce punitive or restrictive measures within their prisons, while researchers and international bodies hastened to promote an alternative approach, based on voluntarism, education, and harm reduction. This tried to acknowledge prisoners’ rights and to position prisons as an integral part of the wider community, and by the early 1990s some regions saw innovations such as methadone treatment and needle exchanges established within their prisons.

This chapter reviews and begins to explain the different ways in which countries around Europe responded to HIV/AIDS in their prison systems. The size of a nation’s prison population and the extent of injecting drug use were both important factors in determining national response, as were pre-existing structures of prison healthcare provision and attitudes towards both homosexuality and crime. Responses in prisons were also closely affiliated to responses in the wider community – perhaps to a greater extent than campaigners calling for greater parity were prepared to recognise. It then compares policies and developments in the Republic of Ireland and Switzerland to explore different forms of activism, with different outcomes. Using international evaluations and research from the 1980s and 1990s, national policy documents, and oral histories, this chapter also raises questions about the kind of activism surrounding HIV/AIDS that is remembered.

in Histories of HIV/AIDS in Western Europe
Roberta Bivins

After the Second World War, major programmes of national recovery and reform across Europe built on pre-war precedents to develop universal systems of medical provision for their citizens. ‘Health’ or at least access to healthcare came to be seen, especially in Britain, as both a symbol of modern nationhood and a tool of social cohesion. The USA, by far the wealthiest and most productive nation to emerge from the war, rejected this approach. Historians and politicians have long sought the origins of this idiosyncrasy and the reasons for its persistence, focusing particularly on political and economic forces. But popular culture too has played an important role in US resistance to state interventions in the medical marketplace. This chapter explores the vexed association in Anglo-American discourse between governmental health provision, ‘socialism’ and the British NHS. Focusing specifically on how the US print media represented the NHS visually and rhetorically to the American public, the chapter suggests that the NHS became synonymous with ‘state medicine’ in US popular culture between 1948 and 1958. It then reflects on British responses, and asks why hostile American visions of a purely domestic British social institution provoked such strong reactions. The chapter argues that fierce British advocacy of the NHS at home and abroad envisioned the service itself as a necessary bulwark protecting the nation from communism in the fervid atmosphere of the early Cold War: welfare, in the form of the NHS, was warfare.

in Posters, protests, and prescriptions
Martin D. Moore

This chapter explores the intensifying political, public, and professional concern with general practice waiting rooms in the first decade of the NHS. It argues that the years after 1948 saw the beginnings of a distinctively ‘NHS’ general practice waiting room emerge in British primary care: a space shaped by the ways in which inter-war professional values and premises were reworked in relation to post-war political promises and the peculiar new dynamics created between state, patient, and general practitioner (GP) under the new health service. However, though GPs’ waiting rooms came in for substantial criticism, material change was neither swift nor immediately radical. GPs retained considerable autonomy over their surgeries and practices. Despite coming under considerable political scrutiny, waiting rooms were only gradually remade while doctors reconsidered how patients’ suspended time in the waiting room could be put to new use. The reflections prompted during this period created the parameters for more incremental change as professional identities and the financial structures of general practice changed over subsequent decades.

in Posters, protests, and prescriptions
Alex Mold

The notion of consumerism in health is often seen as controversial. Many regard consumerism, with an emphasis on individual choice, markets, and profit, as antithetical to the universalist, collectivist, free-at-the-point-of-use National Health Service. Yet there were many different understandings of consumerism in British healthcare during the 1980s. This chapter examines how consumerist ideas were manifested in public health policy and practice, and especially the impact that they had on health education and health promotion. Consumerism represented a double-edged sword for health educators. Behaviours linked to consumerism, and especially the consumption of certain products, such as tobacco and alcohol, were linked to significant public health problems. Curbing such behaviours by encouraging people towards practices of ‘sensible’ consumption offered a potential way to address to these issues. Consumption was thus both a problem and a solution. With this in mind, the chapter analyses two health education campaigns from the 1980s, one to promote ‘sensible’ drinking and the other designed to deter children from smoking. Both used consumerist tropes, especially the notion of choice. Looking at how this language of choice was received by the public indicates that consumerist approaches were not hegemonic. Indeed, if health was a choice, it is clear that the public could choose not to choose it.

in Posters, protests, and prescriptions
Angela Whitecross

The NHS is a space in which we encounter through multiple identities: as patients, as friends and family, as employees, as a local community. ‘NHS at 70: The Story of Our Lives’ is a national project which has been recording oral histories with patients and staff, taking a holistic approach to each person and their relationship with the NHS. In these testimonies the everyday and the extraordinary feature across memories of particular places and the reliving of defining moments, from which we can begin to construct shared emotional responses to the NHS. Positioning the NHS as a space which is both public and private and cradles a myriad emotional experiences across generations can deepen our understanding of the public’s changing relationship with the NHS and its central place in British social culture. Using personal testimonies, this chapter explores how memories of spaces that are entrenched in the collective memory have changed in purpose or disappeared, and how new digital spaces of healthcare have emerged. It first examines memories of Park Hospital (now Trafford Hospital), the first NHS hospital, to understand the NHS and its cultural significance in the UK. Second, it explores memories of changing spaces of care – from sanatoria to asylums – in order to understand personal responses to changes in treatments and restructuring. Third, it considers the impact of virtual spaces in the NHS and the ways in which digital technology is creating a new space for patients and healthcare professionals.

in Posters, protests, and prescriptions
Katey Logan

In 1948 Boots the Chemists was placed at the intersection of high-street commercialism and public healthcare as its pharmacists took on the role of delivering dispensing services for the new nationalised health service. This chapter investigates how the NHS, as a cultural phenomenon, profoundly impacted the high-street retailer and its cohorts of professional pharmacists after 1948. It follows the changes in the physicality of dispensing in the shop setting, the advertising of NHS services in shop windows, and the enhancement of pharmacists’ professional reputation through their role in public health. While for the pharmacy profession as a whole, state-compensated dispensing was economically risky, Boots incentivised its pharmacists to compete for NHS prescriptions, leading to a massive uptake in service usage and customer footfall. Analysis of prescription service data highlights the importance of a new population of customer-patients who ‘didn’t buy anything’ yet drove Boots’ ‘NHS business’ by taking advantage of free dispensing services. The chapter locates the NHS’s cultural reach in a novel physical and material domain on the high street, in the relationships between pharmacists and patients, and in the expression of professional identity. It concludes that the symbiotic relationship between Boots and the NHS propelled both to become ‘bigger’ cultural players.

in Posters, protests, and prescriptions