In the history of medicine, the 1918 influenza pandemic (otherwise known as the Spanish flu) occupies a curious place. For decades, historians have claimed that this event reshaped human history, but then somehow disappeared, leaving little historical trace. They have also claimed that this forgetting is particularly evident in the Global South, which experienced the worst devastation. If the Spanish flu has been forgotten, what would its memorialization look like? The first part of this essay outlines the dangers of presuming a proper mode of remembering. The second part proposes an alternative: what if we take the absence of memorialization not as a lack demanding intervention but as a conceptual insight? Finally, this essay clarifies the implications of this refusal to identify the Global South as a zone of exceptional abjection—of human lives as well as of historical accounting—for our practices of remembering COVID-19.

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