Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie

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Univ of North Carolina Press, Nov 9, 2000 - Social Science - 365 pages
In 1982, Harvard-trained ethnobotanist Wade Davis traveled into the Haitian countryside to research reports of zombies--the infamous living dead of Haitian folklore. A report by a team of physicians of a verifiable case of zombification led him to try to obtain the poison associated with the process and examine it for potential medical use.

Interdisciplinary in nature, this study reveals a network of power relations reaching all levels of Haitian political life. It sheds light on recent Haitian political history, including the meteoric rise under Duvalier of the Tonton Macoute. By explaining zombification as a rational process within the context of traditional Vodoun society, Davis demystifies one of the most exploited of folk beliefs, one that has been used to denigrate an entire people and their religion.

 

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Passage of darkness: the ethnobiology of the Haitian zombie

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Haitian zombification, a subject that has provoked a great deal of sensational reporting in the popular press and skepticism in anthropological circles, is analyzed in this fascinating work. The ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
1 The Historical and Cultural Setting
15
2 The Haitian Zombie
56
3 The Problem of Death
86
4 The Poison
107
5 The Antidote
166
The Emic View
181
7 Zombification as a Social Process
213
8 The Bizango Secret Societies
241
Ethnobiology and the Haitian Zombie
285
Note on Orthography
291
Glossary
293
Bibliography
303
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About the author (2000)

Wade Davis has studied the zombie phenomenon extensively. He is author of The Serpent and the Rainbow, a chronicle of his experiences in Haiti while trying to locate the zombie poison.

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