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Better Off DeadThe Evolution of the Zombie as Post-Human$
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Deborah Christie and Sarah Juliet Lauro

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780823234462

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823234462.001.0001

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“They are not men … they are dead bodies”: From Cannibal to Zombie and Back Again

“They are not men … they are dead bodies”: From Cannibal to Zombie and Back Again

(p.9) Chapter 1 “They are not men … they are dead bodies”: From Cannibal to Zombie and Back Again
Better Off Dead

Chera Kee

Fordham University Press

This chapter investigates the earliest wave of zombie cinema, and the original mythology that transmitted the zombie to mainstream consciousness around the time of the U.S. occupation of Haiti. Looking at the way that Saint Domingue, what would later become Haiti, was earlier characterized by European writers as a land of cannibals, this chapter juxtaposes this rhetoric to the exoticization of the Haitian that comes about during the American Occupation of Haiti. Seeing the cinematic uptake of the Haitian zombie as in line with what was clearly in evidence in the use of the figure of the cannibal in colonial writing, namely, a prurient interest in denigrating the Haitian as a savage people, this chapter analyzes the earliest appearances of the zombie and suggests how key elements of the cinematic mythology are solidified during this time period.

Keywords:   zombie, Haiti, folklore, Saint Domingue, early zombie cinema, cannibals, American occupation of Haiti

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