Meet the Authors: Viral Cultures: Activist Archiving in the Age of AIDS
Viral Cultures: Activist Archiving in the Age of AIDS (University of Minnesota Press, 2022) is about how we reckon with the AIDS past now amidst the ongoing pandemic. Despite widespread acknowledgment of the significance of AIDS activism in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s, ranging from scholarly books to popular films, Marika Cifor’s book is the first to investigate the archives upon which such projects depend. Viral Cultures introduces archives as a key facet of HIV/AIDS activism and cultural production. Through archival ethnography Cifor offers an account of the central players-- activists, artists, curators, and archivists--and ideologies--temporal, political, technological, cultural, and biomedical--that have created and sustained AIDS archives. Cifor’s book charts the ways that AIDS records are accessed and animated now from major exhibitions and acclaimed artworks to Facebook walls and Tumblr pages.
In this talk, Cifor will explore how vital nostalgia, the analytic inaugurated in the book, is a generative practice engaging with archives and other information infrastructures amidst crises in ways that hold onto the past critically to repair structural power inequities in ways grounded a the bittersweet longing for a past time or space. Viral Cultures demonstrates how the ways we access and engage with AIDS archives now dictate more than just this pandemic past. AIDS archives shape possible presents and futures and the distribution of life chances in them.
Dr. Marika Cifor is an Assistant Professor in the Information School at University of Washington and an adjunct faculty member in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies. She is a feminist scholar of archival studies and digital studies. Her research investigates how people marginalized by gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, and HIV-status are represented and how they document and represent themselves in archives and digital cultures. Cifor is the author of Viral Cultures: Activist Archiving in the Age of AIDS (University of Minnesota Press, 2022) and her work on archives, information activism, and pandemic media appears in leading publications in information studies, media studies, science and technology studies, and gender and sexuality studies.
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