Filling China’s gaps: Viral banks and bird collections as museums for pandemics

Link to join the seminar on Teams

Two different kinds of collections have been used to anticipate influenza pandemics: viral strains and bird specimens. These collections have been organized in museums and data banks to fill the gaps when specimens were decaying or when viral strains were missing. This article asks how collecting practices changed when they integrated specimens from China considered as a reservoir of influenza viruses and bird species, following a recurrent critical trope that Chinese specimens were missing. It shows that techniques of hunting viruses and birds were used to secure and share information under the global threat of species extinction. It suggests a definition of museums in sentinel territories where samples and specimens are transformed into signs and images of future catastrophic events.

Pitt Rivers Museum Research Seminar in Visual, Material and Museum Anthropology, Michaelmas 2021

Online on Teams (the link is above)

Fridays, 12pm-1.30pm (Weeks 1-3 and 5-8)

Convened by Elizabeth Hallam and Clare Harris