Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie

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UNC Press Books, 1988 - Religion - 344 pages
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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


The Historical and Cultural Setting
The Haitian Zombie
The Problem of Death
The Poison
The Antidote 1 66
Zombification as a Social Process
The Bizango Secret Societies
Ethnobiology and the Haitian Zombie
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About the author (1988)

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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