There are several possible etymologies of the word zombie. One possible origin is jumbie, the West Indian term for "ghost". Another is nzambi, the Kongo word meaning "spirit of a dead person." According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the etymology is from the Louisiana Creole or Haitian Creole zonbi, of Bantu origin. A zonbi is a person who is believed to have died and been brought back to life without speech or free will. It is akin to the Kimbundu nzúmbe ghost. These words are approximately from 1871.
- See also: History of Haiti
According to the tenets of Vodou, a dead person can be revived by a bokor or Voodoo sorcerer. Zombies remain under the control of the bokor since they have no will of their own. "Zombi" is also another name of the Vodou snake god Damballah Wedo, of Niger-Congo origin; it is akin to the Kongo word nzambi, which means "god". There also exists within the voudon tradition the zombi astral which is a human soul that is captured by a bokor and used to enhance the bokor's power.
In 1937, while researching folklore in Haiti, Zora Neale Hurston encountered the case of a woman that appeared in a village, and a family claimed she was Felicia Felix-Mentor, a relative who had died and been buried in 1907 at the age of 29. Hurston pursued rumors that the affected persons were given powerful drugs, but she was unable to locate individuals willing to offer much information. She wrote:
|“||What is more, if science ever gets to the bottom of Voodoo in Haiti and Africa, it will be found that some important medical secrets, still unknown to medical science, give it its power, rather than gestures of ceremony.||”|
Several decades later, Wade Davis, a Harvard ethnobotanist, presented a pharmacological case for zombies in two books, The Serpent and the Rainbow (1985) and Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie (1988). Davis traveled to Haiti in 1982 and, as a result of his investigations, claimed that a living person can be turned into a zombie by two special powders being entered into the blood stream (usually via a wound). The first, coup de poudre (French: 'powder strike'), includes tetrodotoxin (TTX), the poison found in the pufferfish. The second powder is composed of dissociatives such as datura. Together, these powders were said to induce a death-like state in which the victim's will would be entirely subject to that of the bokor. Davis also popularized the story of Clairvius Narcisse, who was claimed to have succumbed to this practice. There is wide belief among the Haitian people of the existence of the "zombie drug".
Symptoms of TTX poisoning range from numbness and nausea to paralysis, unconsciousness, and death, but do not include a stiffened gait or a deathlike trance. According to neurologist Terence Hines, the scientific community dismisses tetrodotoxin as the cause of this state, and Davis' assessment of the nature of the reports of Haitian Zombies is overly credulous.
Others[who?] have discussed the contribution of the victim's own belief system, possibly leading to compliance with the attacker's will, causing psychogenic ("quasi-hysterical") amnesia, catatonia, or other psychological disorders, which are later misinterpreted as a return from the dead. Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing further highlighted the link between social and cultural expectations and compulsion, in the context of schizophrenia and other mental illness, suggesting that schizogenesis may account for some of the psychological aspects of zombification.
In the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed that the souls of the dead could return to earth and haunt the living. The belief in revenants (someone who has returned from the dead) is well documented by contemporary European writers of the time, such as William of Newburgh and Walter Map. According to the Encyclopedia of Things that Never Were, particularly in France during the Middle Ages, the revenant rises from the dead usually to avenge some crime committed against the entity, most likely a murder. The revenant usually took on the form of an emaciated corpse or skeletal human figure, and wandered around graveyards at night. The "draugr" of medieval Norse mythology were also believed to be the corpses of warriors returned from the dead to attack the living. The zombie appears in several other cultures worldwide, including China, Japan, the Pacific, India, Persia, the Arabs, and the Native Americans.
Father give me the Bull of Heaven,
So he can kill Gilgamesh in his dwelling.
If you do not give me the Bull of Heaven,
I will knock down the Gates of the Netherworld,
I will smash the doorposts, and leave the doors flat down,
and will let the dead go up to eat the living!
And the dead will outnumber the living!
Usually, zombies are not depicted as thralls to masters, as in the film White Zombie or the spirit-cult myths. Rather, modern zombies are depicted in mobs and waves, seeking either flesh to eat or people to kill or infect, and are typically rendered to exhibit signs of physical decomposition such as rotting flesh, discolored eyes, and open wounds, and moving with a slow, shambling gait. They are generally incapable of communication and show no signs of personality or rationality, though George Romero's zombies appear capable of learning and very basic levels of speech as seen in the films Day of the Dead and Land of the Dead.
Modern zombies are closely tied to the idea of a zombie apocalypse, the collapse of civilization caused by a vast plague of undead. The ideas are now so strongly linked that zombies are rarely depicted within any other context.
There are still significant differences among the depictions of zombies by various media; for one comparison see the contrasts between zombies by Night of the Living Dead authors George A. Romero and John A. Russo as they evolved in the two separate film series that followed. In some zombie apocalypse films from the 2000's, such as 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Dead Set , zombies are depicted as being superhumanly quick and nimble, a further departure from the established genre stereotype.
In philosophy of mind, zombies are hypothetical persons who lack full consciousness but have the biology or behavior of a normal human being; they are often used in thought experiments which make arguments against the identity of the mind and the brain. The term was coined by philosopher of mind David Chalmers. They are referred to as philosophical zombies or "p-zombies". 
Some zombie fans continue the George A. Romero tradition of using zombies as a social commentary. Organized zombie walks, which are primarily promoted through word of mouth, are regularly staged in some countries. Usually they are arranged as a sort of surrealist performance art but they are occasionally put on as part of a unique political protest.
Other organizations such as Zombie Squad use the genre as a way to promote disaster preparedness and to encourage horror fans to become involved in their community, through volunteering or hosting zombie themed charity fundraisers.
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- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Howstuffworks "How Zombies Work"
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 zombie - Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
- ↑ Definition of zombie - Merriam-Webster's Student Dictionary
- ↑ Gallaher, Tim (1997). Zora Neale Hurston, American Author
- ↑ Hines, Terence; "Zombies and Tetrodotoxin"; Skeptical Inquirer; May/June 2008; Volume 32, Issue 3; Pages 60-62.
- ↑ Michael Page and Robert Ingpen : Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were: Creatures, Places, and People, 1987. ISBN 0-14-010008-3
- ↑ Kovacs, Maureen Gallery, transl. with intro. (1985,1989). The Epic of Gilgamesh. Stanford University Press: Stanford, California. ISBN 0-8047-1711-7. Glossary, Appendices, Appendix (Chapter XII=Tablet XII). A line-by-line translation (Chapters I-XI).}}
- ↑ Chalmers, David. 1995. "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness", Journal of Consciousness Studies, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 200-219
- ↑ "Shopping Spree of the Dead!". Retrieved on 2007-02-26.
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