When Foreign Models Met Authoritarian Rule

When Foreign Models Met Authoritarian Rule: Divergent Effects of Transnational Engagement on the Chinese AIDS Movement

[Abstract] How do transnational institutions affect the organizational forms local activists choose in high-capacity authoritarian states? While existing literature often focuses on the direct interaction between transnational institutions and local actors, I develop a conflict-centered institutional framework to highlight the indirect mechanism through which transnational institutions produce divergent outcomes on the ground I argue that the conflict between transnational institutions and strong states shape new forms of resistance by changing the domestic institutional environment where mobilization takes place. Such environmental changes alter legitimate conflict objects and prescribe new organizational forms as politically viable in a highly repressive context. My analysis is grounded in a case study of how AIDS activists in China replaced locally rooted organizing forms with a highly risky transnational model of organizing, and how this shift benefited urban gay groups while marginalizing rural groups of peasants infected via contaminated blood.