The Public Construction of AIDS Deaths in the United Kingdom

  • Neil Small


On 1 December 1995, like 1 December for several previous years, I was with a group of people remembering those who have lived with and died from HIV-related illness. In my home city of Leeds we met in the Town Hall. There were more than a hundred people, many familiar faces, but some new. We heard people talking about their own life with the virus or about caring for people now dead. It was moving and tender: at times the spontaneity faltered but the sense of comradeship and of reverence did not. People spoke out loud the name of the one they loved. On display were sections of the Quilt, in which individuals are remembered but which also serves to illustrate how, when the sections are put together, the whole tells a further story than that told in the particular. We then moved outside on to the Town Hall steps. We carried candles, sang songs, ‘We are the World, We are the People …’ and released white balloons, one for each person from our region who had died — more balloons than you expected. The wind carried them towards and over the adjacent hospital and the ward where many of those deaths had occurred.


Public Construction National Frontier Unknown Country Distinct Local Characteristic Intimate World 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, B. (1991) Imagined Communities, London: Verso.Google Scholar
  2. Arnold, K. and James, F. (1995) AIDS and Fatal Attractions, London: Wellcome Institute.Google Scholar
  3. Bennett, A. (1994) ‘Russell Harty, 1934–1988’, in Writing Home, London: Faber & Faber.Google Scholar
  4. Davies, J. (1993) ‘War Memorials’, in D. Clark (ed.) The Sociology of Death, Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  5. Drucker, E. (1990) ‘Epidemic in the War Zone: AIDS and community survival in New York City’, International Journal of Health Services, 20, 4: 601–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. European Centre for the Epidemiological Monitoring of AIDS (1994) AIDS Surveillance in Europe, Quarterly Report No. 41.Google Scholar
  7. Finerman, R. and Bennett, L.A. (1995) ‘Guilt, Blame and Shame: Responsibility in Health and Sickness’, Social Science and Medicine, 40, 1, January: 1–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Garfield, S. (1994) The End of Innocence, London: Faber & Faber.Google Scholar
  9. Gruer, L. et al. (1991) ‘Distribution of HIV and Acute Hepatitis B Infection among Drug Injectors in Glasgow’, International Journal of STD’s and AIDS, 2: 356–8.Google Scholar
  10. King, M.B. (1989) ‘AIDS on the Death Certificate: the final stigma’, British Medical Journal, 28, 18 March: 734–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kirmayer L. (1988) ‘Mind and Body as Metaphors: hidden values in biomedicine’, in M. Lock and D. Gordon, Biomedicine Examined, Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  12. Kleinman, A. (1988) The Illness Narratives, New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  13. O’Neill, J. (1990) ‘AIDS as a Globalizing Panic’, in M. Featherstone (ed.) Global Culture, London: Sage.Google Scholar
  14. Patton, C. (1990) Inventing AIDS, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  15. Pye, M., Kapila, M., Buckley, G. and Cunningham, D. (1989) Responding to the AIDS Challenge, London: Health Education Authority and Longman.Google Scholar
  16. Ruskin, C. (1988) The Quilt: Stories from the NAMES Project, New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  17. Small, N. (1993a) ‘Dying in a Public Place; AIDS deaths’, in D. Clark (ed.) The Sociology of Death, Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  18. Small, N. (1993b) AIDS: The Challenge. Understanding, education and care, Aldershot: Avebury.Google Scholar
  19. Sontag, S. (1988) AIDS and its Metaphors, London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  20. Watney, S. (1994) Practices of Freedom, London: Rivers Oram Press.Google Scholar
  21. Weeks, J. (1990) ‘Post-modern AIDS?’, in T. Boffin and S. Gupta (eds.) Ecstatic Antibodies, London: Rivers Oram Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil Small

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations