Monday, December 16, 2013

Zoinks! Tracing The History of 'Zombie' from Haiti to The CDC

That was the subject line of an email blast that landed in my inbox recently from a major online retailer as it announced it was "bringing their Black Friday deals back to life."

With shows like The Walking Dead and movies like World War Z, plus a whole literary subgenre known simply as "zombie lit," the supernatural beings have been having a pop culture moment for some time now.

While there's a long history and fascination with animated corpses in American literature and cinema, zombies aren't originally a product of the American imagination. The undead corpses actually trace their roots to Haiti and Haitian Creole traditions that have their roots in African religious customs.

According to Haitian folklore, the book Race, Oppression and the Zombie recounts, zombies are the product of spells by a voudou sorcerer called a bokor. The word is believed to be of West African origin and was brought to Haiti by slaves from that region. The concept of zombies would evolve further with the creation of the voudou religion.

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