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Affective Historiography: Revisiting Injury, Rewriting Nation's History
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1003-3418
2015 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In 2012, Swedish public service television SVT aired the three-part drama series Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves (Torka aldrig tårar utan handskar) about the AIDS crisis in Stockholm in the 1980s. Based on a trilogy of novels, the TV series became a popular success: 1,2 million viewers were seated for the premiere, an intense media coverage followed and the series as well as the novelist and the scriptwriter, Jonas Gardell, received critical acclaim and awards.

In this paper, Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves is discussed as an occasion of affective historiography: a coincidence of commemoration and activism in the present. In its turning to the 1980s, the TV series coincided with several US documentaries about AIDS activism  (United in Anger 2013, How to Survive a Plague 2012, Vito 2011, We Were Here 2010, Sex in as Epidemic 2010) and, also, a Swedish film Infected – The Story of HIV in Sweden  (2012, Smittad – När HIV kom till Sverige). Employing an archival aesthetic for documentary effect and interlacing fictitious scenes with documentary footage as well as an authorial voice-over, Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves addresses its viewers through the twin modes of sentimentality and anger.

While enabling gay community to mourn the victims of AIDS, to revisit the injuries of AIDS crisis, and to narrativize the gay life in 1980s Stockholm, the drama series also occasioned an expression of anger and a rewriting of nation’s history. By bringing the history of AIDS to mainstream media attention and through its archival aesthetics, the TV series flaunted an image of the nation’s near past of 1980s as homophobic and intolerant, intervening thus with the contemporary self-image of Sweden as LHBTQ-friendly. As such, the paper argues, the TV series redistributed the experience of vulnerability onto mainstream audiences, inviting both them and the gay community into complex politics of affect and history.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [sv]
Torka aldrig tårar utan handskar, Jonas Gardell, skam, stolthet, AIDS, minneskultur
National Category
Gender Studies Studies on Film
Research subject
Cinema Studies; Gender Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-127527OAI: diva2:909556
Visible Evidence XXII, University of Toronto, York University, Ryerson University, 19-22 August, 2015.
Vulnerability: Rethinking Representation, Politics and Materialism
Swedish Research Council, 1458902
Available from: 2016-03-07 Created: 2016-03-07 Last updated: 2016-04-28Bibliographically approved

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Koivunen, Anu
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