Zombi/ Zombie


Zombi is the Haitian word for zombie. A zombi, similarly to a golem, is a body without a soul that must be animated by another. Likewise, it also has no free will of its own. The process of resurrecting a zombi is highly specific and the ritual is usually performed by a voudou priestess. A specific type of priest called a Bokor takes people from the graveyard and brings them back from the dead, enslaving them for hard labor. The zombie as represented in popular culture, however, is likely best understood in the postcolonial mode where it says more about the culture that
otherizes (the West) than it does about zombies, Voudou, or Haiti.

In an article for the New York Times Amy Wilentz writes that “to become a zombie was the slave’s worst nightmare: to be dead and still a slave, an eternal field hand” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/31/opinion/a-zombie-is-a-slave-forever.html?_r=0) Within such a historical framework the zombi comes to signify, not a horrifying monster, but the difference between life and death in relation to the difference between freedom and slavery.

Since the 20th century, however, the zombi has turned into the terrifying zombie that is sensationalized in Hollywood B movie horror films. Kordas comments that the zombie was “a blank slate upon which the concerns of hopes and fears of white Americans could be written on” (Kordas, 16). By taking an entirely ahistorical approach, Western Popular culture has captured the zombie and used it for an agenda that furthers colonialism. The zombie becomes a scapegoat for prejudice and stereotype.

Kordas, Ann. “New South, New Immigrants, New Women, New Zombies.” Race, Oppression and the Zombie : Essays on Cross-Cultural Appropriations of the Caribbean Tradition. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2011. 15-30. Print.


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