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2014 events

Gay activism after AIDS: hypothesising on a 'post-success' environment in China

Dr Timothy Hildebrandt, Department of Social Policy, LSE

Research seminar

4-6pm, Wednesday 12th February 

Room K-1.14, King's Building, Strand Campus

All are welcome to China Institute research seminars - no need to register


This paper engages a key issue that continues to be poorly understood and generally under-theorised in all polities: what happens to NGOs and activists when they succeed in meeting key goals? Specifically, it examines what happens to gay activism when the issues around which it rose to prominence are no longer of considerable interest to the parties that grant it crucial economic and political opportunities. In posing these questions, this paper presents the case of gay activism in China, which has risen largely because of the outbreak of, and subsequent attention to, HIV/AIDS. While the health crisis is far from solved, international interest has waned, resulting in fewer political and economic opportunities for gay activists in the country. Thus, it suggests that the problem of ‘post-success’ for activism can be explored even before actual lofty goals are met. In order to understand how gay activists might deal with this changing environment, the paper draws upon insights from other ‘post-success’ responses of gay activists in the US and Europe; it posits and explores the likelihood of a number of hypotheses on how Chinese gay activism might respond to this new situation. In doing so, it contains a number of important insights for ‘post-success’ of activism beyond both China and LGBT rights.


Timothy Hildebrandt is Assistant Professor of Social Policy and Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science.  His book, Social Organizations and the Authoritarian State in China (Cambridge, 2013), analyses NGO activism in three different issue areas: environmental protection; HIV/AIDS prevention; and gay and lesbian rights. His research has been published in numerous journals, including VOLUNTAS, The China Quarterly, Journal of Contemporary China, Review of International Studies and Foreign Policy Analysis.

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