Pirates and Zombies

edited by Alexandra Ganser and Gudrun Rath

Ganser, Alexandra, and Gudrun Rath (eds.). Pirates and Zombies. Special issue of Atlantic Studies 20, no. 3 (2023).

From the website:

Questioning the opposition of freedom and enslavement and of life and death, zombies and pirates have negotiated (post)colonial relations for centuries. Zombies, bodies or spirits doomed to serve a master beyond death, thematize histories of enslavement which also include rebellion. Similarly, pirates were used to articulate colonial adventure and exploitation on the one hand and the idea of a resistant collective beyond established power relations on the other. Both have been cast as figures of exception who are discursively located beyond law and state while simultaneously playing a constitutive role for both; both figures are marked by ambivalent characterizations – hero and criminal, rebel and slave, perpetrator and victim.


Alexandra Ganser is professor of North American Literature and Culture and heads the interdisciplinary research platform “Mobile Cultures and Societies” at the University of Vienna. She is author of Crisis and Legitimacy in Atlantic American Narratives of Piracy, 1678-1865 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).

Gudrun Rath is a cultural studies researcher at the University of Art and Design Linz, Austria. Her monograph on zombie history, Untotes Gedächtnis, was published in 2022.