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Indirect Action

Schizophrenia, Epilepsy, AIDS, and the Course of Health Activism

2016
Author:

Lisa Diedrich

Indirect Action

The interconnectedness of illness, thought, and activism prior to the arrival of AIDS in the United States

Lisa Diedrich explores how and why illness was so significant to the social, political, and institutional transformation beginning in the 1960s through the emergence of AIDS in the United States. Indirect Action places illness in the leading role in the production of thought during the emergence of AIDS, ultimately showing the critical interconnectedness of illness and political and critical thought.

Complex yet disarmingly candid, Indirect Action queers the process of history itself, offering a politics of indirectness that is still action, of remembering that doesn't overshadow. Lisa Diedrich is skilled at presenting a turn of thought or analytic term with extraordinary precision and historical weight.

Catherine Belling, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

The experience of illness (both mental and physical) figures prominently in the critical thought and activism of the 1960s and 1970s, though it is largely overshadowed by practices of sexuality. Lisa Diedrich explores how and why illness was indeed so significant to the social, political, and institutional transformation beginning in the 1960s through the emergence of AIDS in the United States. A rich intervention—both theoretical and methodological, political and therapeutic—Indirect Action illuminates the intersection of illness, thought, and politics.

Not merely a revision of the history of this time period, Indirect Action expands the historiographical boundaries through which illness and health activism in the United States have been viewed. Diedrich explores the multiplicity illness–thought–politics through an array of subjects: queering the origin story of AIDS activism by recalling its feminist history; exploring health activism and the medical experience; analyzing psychiatry and self-help movements; thinking ecologically about counterpractices of generalism in science and medicine; and considering the experience and event of epilepsy and the witnessing of schizophrenia.

Indirect Action places illness in the leading role in the production of thought during the emergence of AIDS, ultimately showing the critical interconnectedness of illness and political and critical thought.

Indirect Action

Lisa Diedrich is associate professor of women’s and gender studies at State University of New York at Stony Brook. She is the author of Treatments: Language, Politics, and the Culture of Illness (Minnesota, 2007).

Indirect Action

Complex yet disarmingly candid, Indirect Action queers the process of history itself, offering a politics of indirectness that is still action, of remembering that doesn't overshadow. Lisa Diedrich is skilled at presenting a turn of thought or analytic term with extraordinary precision and historical weight.

Catherine Belling, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Moving through several sites that link illness, thought, and political action, Indirect Action is an engaged, vital, and generative critical practice. Lisa Diedrich demonstrates that when we take a longer view of complex phenomena, we discover the occluded origins and overlooked factors leading to their emergence.

Susan M. Squier, Pennsylvania State University

Beautifully crafted, Indirect Action helps us to see how present activism, specifically health activism, might be done differently. Lisa Diedrich’s gift is her ability to capture the transversal view without losing sight of this important argument: There is enormous power in indirect action.

Lisa Cartwright, University of California, San Diego

Indirect Action

Contents
Introduction: Illness-Thought-Activism
1. Doing Queer Love, circa 1985
Snapshot 1: Gregg Bordowitz’s The Order of Image Production, 2003, and “Queer Structures of Feeling,” 1993
2. Que(e)rying the Clinic, circa 1970
Snapshot 2: Félix Guattari’s “David Wojnarowicz,” 1989
3. Enacting Clinical Experience, circa 1963
Snapshot 3: Samuel R. Delany’s Happening, 1959
4. Thinking Ecologically, circa 1962 and 1971
Snapshot 4: Frantz Fanon’s “Colonial War and Mental Disorders,” 1961, and Isaac Julien’s “Fanon,” 1996
5. Drawing Epilepsy
Snapshot 5: Disability Law Center’s Investigation of Bridgewater State Hospital, 2014, and Frederick Wiseman’s Titicut Follies, 1967
6. Witnessing Schizophrenia
Afterimage: ACT UP’s “Drugs into Bodies,” the Near Present
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index