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Prepare for Monsters! Governance by Popular Culture
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media Studies.
2016 (English)In: The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, ISSN 2009-0374, Vol. 1, no 15Article in journal (Refereed) In press
Abstract [en]

Recently, various stakeholders have applied the pop-cultural metaphor of the zombie in efforts that seek to aware and prepare citizens for potential threats and disasters. But what are the cultural and political consequences of applying this very specific metaphor in what are, essentially, attempts to govern populations? By studying how and why the zombie is used in civil defence courses, government information campaigns and popular science TV shows, this paper identifies five patterns to its cultural-political operation: (1) it emphasizes a world-view where complexity has become too overwhelming to handle and that we therefore need to go back to a more simple model of the world; (2) the solution to complexity is the application of an anthropocentric metaphor that makes specific what was previously unknown through arbitrary ruling and othering; (3) once complexity is reduced, the metaphor is easily overgeneralized to contexts far beyond its initial reach; (4) however, as such rules and generalizations are applied the metaphor comes to legitimize certain agencies and limit others in what is basically an attempt to maintain power differentials in the future; (5) and finally, the metaphor is being protected from falsification by relying on pseudo-scientific explanations. Conclusively, this cultural ambition to send every monster on a path towards comfortable transparency becomes limiting and by making the zombie the metaphor we prepare by (in order to make familiar what are irreducible social, cultural and political intricacies) we effectively foreclose many options for a more inclusive future.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 1, no 15
Keyword [en]
zombies, popular culture, governance, cultural politics
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-132095OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-132095DiVA: diva2:948410
Available from: 2016-07-11 Created: 2016-07-11 Last updated: 2016-08-24

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Skågeby, Jörgen
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