Figures of terror: The “zombie” and the Haitian Revolution

Hoermann, Raphael orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-6156-8431 (2017) Figures of terror: The “zombie” and the Haitian Revolution. Atlantic Studies: Literary, Historical and Cultural Perspectives, 14 (2). pp. 152-173. ISSN 1478-8810

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This article investigates the relation of the figure of the zombie to the Haitian Revolution, the only successful slave revolution in the Atlantic World. While existing research often stresses the strong link between the zombie and the slave, this is not borne out by the contemporary discourse on the Haitian Revolution. Whereas horror and terror are associated with the zombie from its inception, it is only with the US occupation of Haiti (1915–1934) that US-American writers and directors invented the zombie of popular North Atlantic culture: a soulless slave without consciousness directed by a zombie master. As I argue, this amounts to a neo-colonialist act of symbolic re-enslavement of the self-emancipated Haitians. This time they are deprived not merely of their freedom as under the slave regime, but even of their consciousness.

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