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Racing for the Cure, Walking Women, and Toxic Touring: Mapping Cultures of Action within the Bay Area Terrain of Breast Cancer

Maren Klawiter
Social Problems
Vol. 46, No. 1 (Feb., 1999), pp. 104-126
DOI: 10.2307/3097164
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3097164
Page Count: 23
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Racing for the Cure, Walking Women, and Toxic Touring: Mapping Cultures of Action within the Bay Area Terrain of Breast Cancer
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Abstract

This paper offers the concept cultures of action to develop a comparative analysis of the San Francisco Bay Area's field of breast cancer activism. I draw attention to the ways in which culture within social movements is enacted, embodied, and emoted, as well as enunciated, by conceptualizing the breast cancer movement in terms of three different cultures of action. The first, represented by Race for the Cure®, draws upon biomedicine, connects breast cancer to survivor identities and the display of heteronormative femininities, mobilizes hope and faith in science and medicine, and promotes biomedical research and early detection. The second, represented by the Women & Cancer Walk, draws upon multicultural feminism, the women's health movement and AIDS activism, connects breast cancer to other women's cancers, challenges the emphasis on survival and the display of heteronormative femininities, emphasizes the effects of institutionalized inequalities, mobilizes anger against the institutions of biomedicine, and promotes social services and treatment activism. The third, represented by the Toxic Tour of the Cancer Industry, draws upon the feminist cancer and environmental justice movements, broadens the focus to include all cancers and environmentally-related illnesses, represents breast cancer as the product and source of profits of a global cancer industry, mobilizes outrage against corporate malfeasance and environmental racism, and replaces the emphasis on biomedical research and early detection with demands for corporate regulation and cancer prevention. This three-dimensional conceptualization extends our understanding of breast cancer activism and contributes to a reorientation of social movements theory around the bodily dimensions of cultural production and collective action. The main function of public spaces is that of rendering visible and collective the questions raised by movements. Alberto Melucci (1994:189)

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