The Tragic, Forgotten History of Zombies

The Atlantic has published this is an incredibly thoughtful and interested article about the history of zombies, ‘The Tragic, Forgotten History of Zombies’. It’s well researched and effectively argued covering the relationship between George A. Romero’s undead films and the belief in zombies in Haiti during the height of the slave trade.

If I have any concerns with the piece, it is regarding the denigration of recent representations of zombies. Within Gothic academia, I have noticed a tendency to mock and dislike more recent portrayals of the monsters. It also seemed to me that describing modern zombie apocalypse narratives as ‘fantasies’ was a little stretched. Though they may offer a celebration of the individual’s struggle in a lawless society, they tend to end with the death of the protagonist undercutting the notion of individualistic power.

The article also seems to suggest a linear narrative in the evolution of the zombie (one which also occurs in discussions about vampires and werewolves). I am uncomfortable with the idea that any one historical account is the source for multiple re-interpretations of a specific monster; this seems to suggest that we can ‘solve’ the root of our fears if we just find that one source. My belief is that there are multiple societal, cultural and historical concerns that go into the transformation and re-appropriation of monstrous representations in popular culture. This piece offers an important insight into the history of the zombie and its relationship to the contemporary undead but it should support the current academic research into the zombie as a complex abject figure.

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  1. Pingback: The Man Who Brought Zombies to America | Open Graves, Open Minds

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