The Rising Multitude: Zombie Invasion and the Problem of Biopolitics in Max Brooks’s 'World War Z'
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This essay outlines the transnational history of the zombie, arguing for the figure’s revolutionary potential. Approaching the zombie as a complex social practice, I recall its ritualistic African and Haitian roots, the figure’s transposition from Haitian folklore into American ethnographic writings, and its later Hollywood reconfigurations. Insisting on the zombie’s proto-biopolitical character, I propose to see the figure’s continued cultural currency as predicated on its articulation of political dynamics in the globalized world. Noting the historically inscribed rebellious potential of the zombie, I hold that the newest zombie novels suggest that the zombie horde can be seen as a new political subject in the era of late capitalism—the multitude, heralded by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. The transnational nature of the zombie multitude is explored in this essay in the context of Max Brooks’s World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (2006), which capitalizes on the possible awareness-raising potential of the modern pop-cultural evocations of the zombie.
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