This essay looks pointedly at a broad phenomenon wherein ostensibly benign discourses—from the news media to the Hollywood film industry to humanitarian aid—grant permission for North Atlantic denial of human proximity to peoples of the so-called global South. Taking the figure of the (Haitian) zombie as pivot point, the essay reflects on the continuity between dehumanized discursive and visual representations of (postearthquake) Haitians, sub-Saharan Africans, and other immiserated “others.” In question is what exactly the contemporary zombie allows “First World” citizenries to get away with in their dealings with the “Third World.” What thought project does the zombie myth sustain and participate in? How does it link our feelings about blacks, migrants, refugees, and the poor into a long-historical narrative of distancing and (pathologized) ontological difference?
“Flesh Like One’s Own”: Benign Denials of Legitimate Complaint
Kaiama L. Glover is an associate professor of French and Africana studies at Barnard College. She is the author of Haiti Unbound: A Spiralist Challenge to the Postcolonial Canon (2010), coeditor of the Yale French Studies special issue “Revisiting Marie Vieux Chauvet: Paradoxes of the Postcolonial Feminine” (2016), founding editor of sx archipelagos: a small axe journal for digital practice, translator of Frankétienne’s Ready to Burst (2014), and a regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review.
Kaiama L. Glover; “Flesh Like One’s Own”: Benign Denials of Legitimate Complaint. Public Culture 1 May 2017; 29 (2 (82)): 235–260. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-3749045
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