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Varieties of Zombieism: Approaching Comparative Political Economy through 28 Days Later and Wild Zero


  • Author’s note: This paper was written during a sabbatical year at the University of California, Berkeley, that was generously funded by an S. V. Ciriacy-Wantrup Visiting Research Fellowship. I am grateful to Benedict Anderson, John Bodner, David Leheny, Christian Lund, Robert Plowman, Tanya Richardson, Alicia Sliwinski, Miriam Smith, Satsuki Takahashi, and three anonymous reviewers for ISP for their comments. I alone am responsible for any errors of fact, interpretation, or taste.


This paper argues that the frequent references to zombies in analyses of the recent global financial crisis can be harnessed as a “teachable moment” for students of Comparative Political Economy. I claim that two zombie movies in particular—Britain’s 28 Days Later and Japan’s Wild Zero—can be viewed as if they were allegories of two different national forms of capitalism that are integrated into, and affect, the global political economy in different ways. While 28 Days Later displays remarkable similarities to Marxist accounts of the origins and dynamics of capitalism in England, Wild Zero can be seen as an account of the post-1985 dynamics of the Japanese political economy and its engagement with Asia. This paper gives concrete suggestions for the use of zombie films in the classroom. It concludes with the argument that these two films help to explain why references to “zombie capitalism” cross ideological lines.

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