Into the zombie underworld

You may have noticed that zombies (along with vampires) have made a resurgence in pop culture, and it seems like everyone has something to say about them: even economist Tyler Cowen and political analyst Dan Drezner found a way to write about zombies.

Don't care

Personally, I find these stories annoying and irrelevant. Why? Because zombies aren’t real, and I don’t care about the mathematics of a zombie attack or the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. At the risk of sounding like a grinch, I’ll add that zombie parades and zombie walks are also things that fall under the general “I couldn’t care less” category.

However, when I saw on Facebook that Joel Kaiser, an aid worker in Haiti, recommended a piece entitled Into the zombie underworld, saying it was “One of the absolute best articles I’ve read on Haiti. Well worth the read…”, my curiosity was piqued.

Into the zombie underworld is – bar none – one of the best pieces of investigative journalism I’ve read in a long, long time. The prose is superb and very tight, and that in spite of the 8,000+ words. I really don’t want to give it away, because it reads like a thriller or mystery, but I was left believing in the existence of zombies, which, frankly was not a likely outcome, as suggested above. A couple of excerpts:

“Every zombie is made only with the official approbation of the secret society; lacking these documents, the zombie is illicit. (These documents do exist: I was later able to examine a zombie laissez-passer.) Nadathe had no documents.”

“Zombification is not the only punishment the secret societies can inflict, but in rural Haiti it is the ultimate sanction, more dramatic even than death. The fear of zombification, Davis argues, is absolutely central to the social system of rural Haiti.”

This piece is a must-read – not only for the zombie angle – but also for the nuanced and intricate portrayal of Haitian society.

One thought on “Into the zombie underworld

  1. Indeed, this piece was very insightful, intricate, and (to my side of living) a little challenging internally. Nevertheless, I’m glad to have read it. Thanks for posting about it, and congrats at the new gig w/MobileActive (got here via that announcement on twitter).

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