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Acting up, Talking Back: TITA, TIARA, and the Value of Gossip

  • Author(s): Cifor, Marika
  • et al.
Abstract

This article examines through an archival lens Tell it to ACT UP and TIARA, the weekly internal papers of the New York and Los Angeles chapters of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). During their short lives, from 1990 to 1992, the papers published news, suggestions, commentary, complaints, and gossip. In spite it challenge to the core archival concept of reliability, this article asserts that gossip provides unique evidence of affect, sex and sexuality, and offers deeper understandings of the individual and group dynamics that made and unmade ACT UP. Gossip, affect, and bodily experience are all knowledges and ways of knowing that have been feminized are therefore frequently devalued and derided in scholarship and practice. The form, content, and tone of these papers are used to make an argument for the value of gossip as a discursive practice. This article contributes to the growing literature in archival studies on conceptualizing and contending with human experiences—especially affects, sex, and bodily experiences—that challenge, defy, and problematize archival capture, theory, and practice asserting that gossip should be deployed as vital source in this larger project.

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