Why Zombies Never Die
From Haitian legend to government protests to pub crawls, the zombie continues to represent.
Halloween is a popular time for zombie activity, but even when the pumpkins are gone and the witch costumes are put away, the zombies will keep on marching.
That's because the living dead are a year-round affair these days, and not just in movies. Around the world, a growing number of people are dressing up as zombies for parties, festivals, walks and pub-crawls in every season.
To explain the undying boom in all things zombie, experts point to the versatility of zombies as a metaphor. Compared to vampires or werewolves, zombies can symbolize everything people are afraid of and anything that seems to be tearing society apart. Over the decades, the undead have addressed race relations, class wars, diseases, mindless consumerism and more.
"Part of what I really like about zombies is that they don't always represent the same thing," said Brendan Riley, a media scholar at Columbia College Chicago. "They're a really flexible storytelling tool for describing all sorts of different cultural and societal problems."
First-generation zombies emerged from voodoo culture in Haiti more than 100 years ago, argue some academics, including Nick Pearce, a sociologist and anthropologist at the University in Durham in the United Kingdom. Surrounded by a variety of merging African cultures and religions, Haitians believed that sorcerers could put curses on dead people, bringing them partially back to life for use as slaves.
Zombie sightings were documented in Haiti, and although there are possible medical and pharmacological explanations for what was happening, plenty of Haitians were convinced that zombification was indeed possible. No one was actually afraid of zombies themselves, Pearce said. Instead, they were afraid of being turned into zombies.
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