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The first AIDS Histories And Cultures Festival will come to London in July 2018

Convened by the Raphael Samuel History Centre at Birkbeck and Queen Mary University of London, along with Ash Kotak, the festival will explore the histories and cultures of HIV/AIDS from the 1980s to the present day.

How has AIDS been experienced, represented, and remembered throughout modern history?

Throughout July, over twenty events will be taking place across London as part of the first AIDS Histories And Cultures Festival, including workshops, film screenings, talks, parties, music, poetry and performance. The festival will explore some of the histories and cultures of HIV/AIDS from the 1980s to the present day, with many events free to attend.

Highlights of the month-long festival will include: a screening of film After Louie, starring Alan Cumming, followed by a Q&A with director Vincent Gagliostro; the HIVe Memories walking tour in East London; an exploration of AIDS Histories and Cultures in the London Metropolitan Archives; and Positive Voices, a talk from two people living with HIV, Rebecca Tallon-De Havilland and Jonathan Blake, who was part of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) and was portrayed by Dominic West in 2014 film Pride.

Dr Janet Weston, one of the organisers of the festival, said: “The crisis prompted by the emergence of AIDS in the 1980s is starting to recede from popular memory, but historians are beginning to engage with the subject; new art, exhibitions, and documentaries are reflecting back on the life and politics of HIV/AIDS; and activism has been given new energy by the arrival of Pre- and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and the U=U campaign (Undetectable=Untransmittable).

“The lives of many of those living with HIV/AIDS have been transformed by medical advances, especially over the last 20-odd years, but even so, inequalities, ignorance, and stigma remain and are often shaped and informed by the early days of the epidemic. We hope you’ll join us for this important festival as we connect past and present, history and the arts, drawing together heritage, academic, charitable, and cultural organisations to explore memories and experiences of HIV/AIDS, then and now.”

The festival has been convened by the Raphael Samuel History Centre, with many events curated by Ash Kotak at Aesthesia. The RSHC is an outreach and research centre supported by Birkbeck and Queen Mary, University of London, dedicated to exploring public, interdisciplinary, and experimental history across periods and regions. Named after the historian Raphael Samuel, the Centre also maintains an interest in London history and history from below. 

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