Podcast / On The Nose
On the Nose is our biweekly podcast. The editorial staff discusses the politics, culture, and questions that animate today’s Jewish left.
What Does the Record Show?
Duration
0:00 / 57:28
Published
December 2, 2021

In May, writer and activist Sarah Schulman published Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993, to widespread acclaim. In a review for the Fall issue of Jewish Currents, Vicky Osterweil argued that the book, despite offering invaluable insight into the history of AIDS activism, is marred by structural elisions—especially of trans people—and is ultimately hagiographic rather than appropriately critical of the movement it chronicles. While Schulman’s response to the review provoked a controversy, Osterweil’s critique also ignited a discussion about the book itself, sometimes tied to broader disagreements about the theory and practice of both queer history and movement strategy. In a letter to the editor, writer and organizer Kay Gabriel contested Osterweil’s assessment of the book, arguing that it stands as a sober account of what took place. In this episode, Culture Editor Ari M. Brostoff convenes a discussion between Osterweil and Gabriel about Let the Record Show, the dangers of nostalgia, and the challenges of reckoning with our political forebears.

Books, Articles, Talks, and Projects Mentioned:

Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993 by Sarah Schulman

What the Record Doesn’t Show” by Vicky Osterweil

Letter on “What the Record Doesn’t Show” by Kay Gabriel

ACT UP Oral History Project

Being Street: The Trans Woman of Color as Evidence” by Jules Gill-Peterson

Celebrating the Role of Trans People in the Fight Against HIV” by Michelle Ross

Untitled blog post by Bryn Kelly

Diving into the Wreck” by Bryn Kelly

Thanks to Jesse Brenneman for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).”

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