Undead Uprising

Undead Uprising: Haiti, Horror and the Zombie Complex traces the history of xenophobic representations of Haiti and Vodou through the chimerical optics of ‘voodoo-terror’. It asks how sensationalist depictions of Vodou in popular culture and mass media have obscured the historical, political and social realities of Haiti – the first slave-free republic of modern times – and how they continue to perpetuate an idea of Haiti as a land mired in primitive superstition and incapable of real socio-economic progress. Returning the contemporary zombie figure to its origins in the plantation economy of Saint-Domingue, the religion of the African slaves who worked there and colonial fears about slave rebellions, Undead Uprising explores the philosophical, psychological and political debates associated with these incessant agents-without-autonomy, and argues for their continued relevance for contemporary cultural politics.

A PDF of the contents page, preface and introduction to Undead Uprising can be found here.

Undead Uprising can be purchased here.


“Finally an authoritative book on that weird, complex figure of the zombie that delves deep into the dark heart of the matter rather than skating the surface. John Cussans is that rare writer who can bring to bear anthropology, cultural studies, colonial and post-colonial history, philosophy, politics, folk-lore and a love of pulp fiction and film to offer a compelling story about how a marginal superstition from the Caribbean became the defining monster of our times. Prepare for a wild ride that moves elegantly from Hegel and Haiti, via Mesmerism, James Bond, Georges Bataille and Surrealism to Papa Doc Duvalier and Doctor Terror’s House of Horrors, always steadily illuminating a path through a forest of delirious details. A truly marvellous journey.”

Roger Lockhurst, author of Zombies: A Cultural History

“Cussans rejects exceptionalist explanations of Vodou and the zombie to present a nuanced description of those phenomena within the international political, economic and cultural environment in which both the realities and the inventions are situated. This comprehensive work is a must read for anyone wishing to understand more about the destinies of African-based religions in the Americas, and especially concerning the uses and abuses of Haitian cultural phenomena by outside interests.”

LeGrace Benson, author of Art and Religion of Haiti and President of The Haitian Studies Association.

“No one alive, or – almost certainly – deceased, has thought about zombies more voraciously than John Cussans. While the outcome of this feasting is not pretty, what it has unearthed cannot be laid to rest again. Those who doubt the consistency, deep historical momentum, or global significance of the ‘zombie-complex’ will find all such reservations fundamentally challenged by this troubling book. Subsequent to this meticulous and wide-ranging process of exhumation, it is no longer plausible to deny that an inexterminable anticipation of undead uprising continues to define the horizon of our world.”

Nick Land, author of Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism.

Undead Uprising can be purchased here.