Covering the cough? Memory, remembrance, and influenza Amnesia

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The 1918-1919 influenza pandemic killed an estimated 20-100 million people, making it more lethal than the First World War and causing life expectancy rates to decline by approximately ten years. Nearly one hundred years later, though, there will be few (if any) commemorations of the pandemic and its effects on societies around the world, and the bodies affected are largely rendered invisible. Rather than trying to figure out how or why we remember, the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic requires us to consider why we don’t remember. In this article, I suggest some possible reasons for this lack of remembrance and what it may say about the politics of memory. In particular, I consider the effects of transnationalism, the role of illness as a presence or absence within international politics, the absenting of bodies and how it contributes to commemorative silences, and the ambiguity around what gets performed when we remember or commemorate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-368
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian Journal of Politics and History
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author.and 2017 The University of Queensland and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.


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