Are Inﬂ uenzas in Southern China Byproducts of the Region’s Globalizing Historical Present?
Transnational infl uenza Th e emergence of pandemic swine ﬂ u H1N1 in Mexico in 2009 surprised scientists and public health oﬃ cials alike. Over the past decade many had trained their eyes on inﬂ uenzas circulating in East Asia instead, speciﬁ cally in southern China. Th e latter region is currently ground zero for a variety of inﬂ uenza subtypes circulating across livestock and waterfowl. Among them, inﬂ uenza A (H5N1), the bird ﬂ u virus that until this year served as inﬂ uenza’s poster child, ﬁ rst emerged as a highly pathogenic recombinant in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong in 1996. In the decade that followed, H5N1 spread across Eurasia, into Africa, and south to Indonesia, infecting millions of birds and, as of April 2010, 493 humans (World Health Organization, 2010).