Moving Politics: Emotions and ACT Up’s Fight Against AIDS


Emotion plays a fundamental role in health activism. From anger to hope, pride to shame, and solidarity to despair, feelings played a significant part in ACT UP’s provocative style of protest, which included raucous demonstrations, die-ins, and other kinds of street theater. Detailing the movement’s public triumphs and private setbacks, Moving Politics is the definitive account of ACT UP’s origin, development, and decline as well as a searching look at the role of emotion in health activism.


Moving Politics is not just a rich and rigorous history of ACT UP. It is also that rarest of works: one that simultaneously breaks new empirical ground while challenging our more general conceptual understanding of the subject matter. Quite simply, it will be hard for social movement scholars following Gould to ignore the emotional dimensions and dynamics of struggle.”

— Doug McAdam, Stanford University

“In Moving Politics Deborah Gould offers the first full-fledged history of the development of AIDS activism in the United States. In doing so, Gould situates AIDS activism within social movement theory and demonstrates the complex relation between reason and emotion in activist movements.”

— Douglas Crimp, University of Rochester

Author information

Deborah Gould is an associate professor of Sociology at UC Santa Cruz (and affiliated faculty in Feminist Studies, History of Consciousness, and Politics)

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