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Pedagogies of the Zombie

Fri, November 10, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Horner, Third Floor West Tower

Abstract

The image of the zombie as a figure is iconic. The zombie is Frankenstein’s monster, the figure through which Mary Shelley transgressed women’s roles in the 1800s by writing about it. In the 1970s, the zombie figure was articulated through imagery of the wives of Stepford – she was zombie-like submissive woman. Today it has multiple meanings from the person controlled through voodoo rituals, to the brain eating human chasing monster, to the warm heart zombie that falls in-love and becomes human again. The zombie is a resurrected figure through which alterities are reinforced, imagined, and disrupted. It raises ontological questions regarding who and what counts for as the human. The living dead are also social and historical figures that rise up, haunt and stalk the living. The living dead encompass when a history of colonization, genocide, death, slavery, an American apartheid furthered by racism, sexism, and classism, and transnational migration and diasporic subjectivities, are reanimated for the living as the living dead. At times the living dead makes visible ghostly matters. Zombies are not just about the danger – they represent societal concerns, anxieties, and hopes for another kind of future. In neoliberal modern colonial economic systems, are zombies a mechanism of survivance? They raise questions regarding the haunting – sociological, imaginary, and historical – creating a scene of witnessing. Through the living recuperation, recovery, reclamations, appeals to witnessing are made possible. Dr. Fukushima and Dr. Pillow offer reflections and a framework, through a course they team taught at University of Utah - Zombie Futurities. In analyzing the course curriculum, the context in which we were teaching, and the narratives of social death and zombification circulating in politics and media, we put forth a pedagogies of the zombie. A pedagogies of the zombie is methodology of teaching that centralizes decolonial feminisms, anti-racist theory, and gender, to understand how subjects and practices create social death, the living, dead, and hauntings, that may be contended with in the classroom.

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