In the wake of the COVID lockdowns implemented all around the world, and in particular since March 2020, private and public initiatives have emerged to collect diaries, testimonies, and perspectives on the pandemic from ordinary citizens. These calls for witnesses have been presented as a way to preserve traces of the pandemic for the future and to give a voice to all kinds of people confronted with the health crisis, in order to build an “ordinary memory” of the event. In this paper, we will study these social practices of witnessing in a time of crisis. Who were the people who answered these callouts? Who will be considered the witnesses of this pandemic in the future What social groups do they come from in terms of level of education, income, marital status, place of residence, birthplace, ethnicity, religion, and gender? This article will ask to what extent ordinary memories of crisis can really be preserved. It argues that institutional calls for witnesses of the health crisis cannot avoid reproducing some of the social inequalities that have been central in framing ordinary people’s experience of the pandemic and the lockdown.


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