Some critics have argued that the recent popular proliferation of zombie narratives suggests a collective failure of imagination: that what the trope of the zombie signifies is the very impossibility of thinking outside of the prevailing logics of consumption—or Capital. According to this reading, zombie fictions present us with a stark choice indeed: either we accept the current system of globalized Capital as it stands, or we risk descending into some anarchic ‘war of all against all’, of which zombie apocalypse is emblematic. While I have considerable respect for this position—and certainly see the point these critics are making here, I would like to take issue with their reading of the prevailing hegemony of the zombie in popular culture by examining the ways in which fictions such as The Walking Dead, World War Z and The Rising provide us with alternatives, even suggest solutions to the current impasses of the political economic predicament in which we find ourselves. Contra critique, each of these texts, I will argue in this chapter, give us some Kris-like ‘fresh brains’ by which to reimagine the social contract and, through it, an(O)ther Law: one which is squarely situated within the ‘ethics of the Real’ and, in its challenge to zombie jurisdictional dominion, interpolates all of us as the ‘litigating dead’.

Presenter: Professor William MacNeil​

Professor William MacNeil is The Honourable John Dowd Chair in Law, as well as the Dean and Head of the School of Law and Justice, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW and Coolangatta, Qld, Australia. A scholar of jurisprudence and cultural legal studies, MacNeil is the author of Lex Populi: The Jurisprudence of Popular Culture (Stanford, 2007) and Novel Judgements: Legal Theory as Fiction (Routledge, 2012). He is the founding series editor of Edinburgh Critical Studies in Law, Literature and the Humanities and the in-coming Chair of the Australian Council of Law Deans. At present, MacNeil is working on a third book, Speculative Legalism, about the philosophy of law in science fiction, fantasy and horror. 

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