Lucy Swanson, Credit: Aurélia Mouzet

Lucy Swanson: Assistant Professor, French & Francophone Studies; Faculty Affiliate with Latin American Studies & American Literary Translators Association; University of Arizona, Dept. of French & Italian

Wednesday, January 31, 2024,


ASA Koffler Great Room and Zoom



This lecture will explore the origins of the zombie in African spirit beliefs and the Caribbean popular imaginary, trace its evolution from depicting a victim of enslavement to that of a bloodthirsty monster found in films such as George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968), and discuss how contemporary Haitian writers reimagine the figure today.

Centuries before this living dead figure gained a taste for human flesh, the zombie appeared in French colonial texts representing Caribbean folklore, in which the zombie was a metaphor to reflect and critique enslavement. Today in Haiti, the zombie represents a walking embodiment of this historical memory, known as a body robbed of the part of the soul containing personality and will, often forced to labor on sugar cane plantations. The Haitian zombie was reimagined in United States popular culture during the US occupation of Haiti (1915-1934) and beyond, as seen in films like White Zombie (1932),  I Walked with a Zombie (1943–to be shown at ASA Tuesday, January 30, at 7 pm), and The Plague of the Living Dead (1966—to be shown at ASA Sunday, January 28, at 7 pm).  Yet even as this appropriation took place, Haitian writers were reinventing the zombie in their own ways, using it to critique dictatorship or international intervention.

Lucy Swanson (PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 2012) is Assistant Professor of French and Caribbean Studies at the University of Arizona. She is the author of The Zombie in Contemporary French Caribbean Fiction, (2023, Liverpool University Press), as well as numerous articles published in journals such as Contemporary French and Francophone Studies and Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Critique.

Preview compiled and by Suzanne Ferguson, Academy Village Volunteer

You can connect to Zoom either by using the following URL: or by opening a browser to and typing in Meeting ID: 954 5651 1620 and Passcode: 85747 

Jan 31:  “The Zombie in Contemporary French Caribbean Fiction”