Preparing and Repairing. The Conservation of Heritage after the 1997 Bird Influenza Outbreak in Hong Kong


  • Frédéric Keck Laboratory of Social Anthropology, CNRS - National Centre for Scientific Research



Hong Kong, sentinel, repair, biosecurity


This article describes how pandemic preparedness has transformed relations between humans and birds in Hong Kong. If preparedness requires to imagine that a pathogen emerging from birds becomes pandemic, what is the role of memory, experience and heritage in the production of this imaginary? Preparing for future pandemics is linked to repairing vulnerable environments if it focuses on the diversity of relations and the material ecologies which are threatened by an emerging pathogen. After describing the measures implemented in Hong Kong to prepare for an influenza pandemic coming from birds, the article focuses on a specific location, Kadoorie Farm and Botanical Gardens, which recapitulates all the tensions experienced by the Hong Kong population in trying to repair the massive loss of bird life at the time of the handover of the British colony to the Chinese People's Republic. The logic of conservation and heritage is applied to the diversity of the bird population as a sentinel species for emerging pandemics.


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How to Cite

Keck, F. (2021). Preparing and Repairing. The Conservation of Heritage after the 1997 Bird Influenza Outbreak in Hong Kong. Sociologica, 15(3), 45–59.