The Contradictory Impact of Transnational AIDS Institutions on State Repression in China, 1989-2013

“The Contradictory Impact of Transnational AIDS Institutions on State Repression in China, 1989-2013.” American Journal of Sociology. (Conditional Acceptance)

[Abstract] Existing research has focused on the extent to which transnational interventions compel recalcitrant governments to reduce levels of domestic repression, but few have considered how such interventions might also provoke innovation in the forms of repression. Based on a longitudinal study of repression against AIDS activism in China between 1989 and 2013, the author proposes that transnational institutions’ provision and reshaping of material resources and organizational rules can transform a domestic repressive apparatus in specific policy areas. The intervention of transnational AIDS institutions in China not only constrained traditional violent coercion, but also generated new forms of “diplomatic repression” through (1) changing repressive motives by moving AIDS from the margin to the center of mainstream politics; and (2) supplying resources, networks, and models of action that enabled government organizations to reformulate health social organizations as new repressive actors with new repertoires of strategies inside and outside China’s territory. Furthermore, diverse government organizations were far from passive targets in this process but used techniques of mimicry and editing to actively engage with and repurpose transnational practices for repressive ends.