Publications in progress
zombie islands: shifting narratives of oppression and resistance in the french-speaking caribbean
(book manuscript in progress)
Centuries before the zombie was transformed into a violent undead creature hungry for human flesh, the living dead figure symbolized a very different set of bodily and societal fears in the French-speaking Caribbean. First emerging in the region’s folklore during the colonial period centuries ago, the zombie reflects the horrors of the slave trade. Zombie Islands examines how the mythic entity was revived and transformed much more recently, in fiction by authors from Haiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe since roughly 1960 (soon after dictator François Duvalier came to power), and puts these primarily literary texts into dialogue with anthropology and visual culture. Tracing how these interventions into the zombie myth reimagine the creature, transforming it from a symbol of the slave into an allegory of more recent socio-political concerns from oppressive political regimes to the neo-colonial status of Martinique and Guadeloupe, I argue that as a widely-recognized vestige of the colonial era, the zombie establishes connections between the past and the post- or neo-colonial present.
articles & chapters
Cincinnati romance review (34)
Zombie Nation? The Horde, Social Uprisings, and National Narratives
This article explores the function of the zombie horde as a literary entity used to represent and interrogate Haitian national narratives. Three works serve as case studies: Gérard Etienne’s Le nègre crucifié (1974) to examine the “predatory horde”; Frankétienne’s Les affres d’un défi (1979) to analyze the “proletarian horde”; and Dany Laferrière’s Pays sans chapeau (1996) to explore the “phantasmal horde.” Ultimately, the figure of the zombie marks these literary uprisings as mythic discourses, revealing both their pertinence to historical “reality” and their representational limits.
Z pour zombies, eds. Bernard perron, Antonio Dominguez Leiva and Samuel Archibald, presses de l'université de montréal, 2015
De retour d'entre les morts (encore): l'imaginaire de l'espace dans la fiction haïtienne contemporaine
This paper examines the migration of the zombie to the urban space in recent Haitian fiction through a case study of the serialized novel Le Revenant by celebrated writer Gary Victor.
Digging Up the (Living) Dead: The Roots of Antillanité and Créolité
This paper examines references to the zombie myth in Tropiques, the Discours antillais, and Eloge de la créolité, exploring its transformation in the work of writers associated with négritude, antillanité, and créolité.
international journal of francophone studies (17:2)
Blankness, Alienation, and the Zombie in Recent Francophone Fiction.
This article examines the function of the zombie’s blank gaze in recent Francophone Caribbean fiction. The word ‘zombie’ originally emerged in the New World during the transatlantic slave trade. In Haiti, the legendary subservient, disinterred body associated with the term serves as the materialized historical narrative of enslavement. However, even as zombies have evolved into allegories of the Duvalier regime in Haitian literature and violent ‘cannibals’ in North American visual culture, they are connected by their iconic vacant stare. This presumed blankness often seems to illustrate an internal emptiness. This article argues that this idea is problematized by Francophone writers such as Jacques Stephen Alexis, who critiques alienating western narratives by reimagining the zombie’s vacant stare, which comes to metonymize the creature’s narrative plasticity. Ultimately, the blank gaze makes a fascinating vehicle for interrogating the monster’s literal and metanarrative transformations.
contemporary french & francophone studies: sites (20:4-5)
“La Sorcellerie du savoir-faire technologique”: Sorcery and Knowledge in Kourouma's Monnè, outrages et défis (1990)
In recent decades, sorcery has offered a thematic and cultural intersection for many questions engaging postcolonial francophone writers, from the reexamination of dominant historical narratives to issues of tradition and modernity. Celebrated Ivoirian author Ahmadou Kourouma portrayed occult agents frequently in his works. However, for Kourouma, the supernatural is less a sign of cultural preservation, than an emblem of the stagnation of African societies. Through a case study of the author's second novel, Monnè, outrages et défis (1990), which spans the pre- to post-colonial periods, this article argues that Kourouma depicts sorcery as an ineffective resistance against the tangible aspects of colonial power. An analysis of the work's portrayal of witchcraft at the levels of text and plot indicates that occult rituals fail time and again to prevent or overthrow European control in Africa. However, the ironic portrayal of witchcraft reflects back to colonial doctrine and discourse as a vehicle for manipulation. Ultimately, Kourouma not only critiques French and African social narratives, but rather by extension, he calls into question accepted forms of knowledge, interrogating the role of discourse in shaping societies, and destabilizing epistemological hierarchies.