The Zombie as a Mirror of Modern Mass Culture
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Zombie Revitalization Metaphors Crisis Phenomena Cultural Trends Fears

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Yakushenkov, S., & Yakushenkova, O. (2021). The Zombie as a Mirror of Modern Mass Culture. Corpus Mundi, 2(4), 15-39.


Zombies were and still are one of the most important symbols of modern mass culture. The zombie discourse originated among African slaves brought to the sugar plantations in the Caribbean. In many ways, the narratives of the “living dead” were a reaction to the crisis phenomena of plantation life. This is evidenced by the rich comparative material presented on many peoples of the world. Such notions of invulnerability after formal death proved to be an important tool of resistance to new conditions caused by external threats. Termed “revitalization,” they were an important element of the Millennialist movements. While initially the sorcerers who could bring themselves back to life were central to these beliefs, in the following period the focus shifted to the victims of various manipulations, transformed into soulless beings. Leaving the environment of their original “habitat,” zombies took on a new life, occupying a firm place in modern mass culture. Having become a symbol of ruthless exploitation of man, relegated to the level of a machine appendage, zombies proved to be one of the most “productive” symbols. They reflected the main trends in the development of society and even began to function as instruments of philosophical reflection. All this allows us to consider zombies as an indicator of altered society, producing new “walking dead”. The metaphors associated with zombies allows us to conclude that the comprehension of zombies makes modern man begin to perceive them constructively, creating a new image, demonstrating the movement towards humanization.
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