Zombies - The walking dead in cultural history and horror films

Zombies - The walking dead in cultural history and horror films

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Zombies, the mindless dead, have been an integral part of the horror film since "The Night of the Living Dead", George Romero's classic from 1968. The dead rise from the graves, driven by hunger for human flesh and lust for murder. Unlike vampires, the zombies lose the intelligence they had as humans.

Zombies and voodoo

Zombies, as the European epitome of voodoo (vaudou), are the result of a physical or psychological method of personality destruction, in the religious understanding of disembodied souls or soulless bodies. According to a thesis, the term is derived from the Indian word Zemi, which in the Indian religion of the Caribbean referred to both the soulless living and the spirit of the dead, and a talisman that was necessary to cast magic. Another theory traces its origin back to the term nzumbe, which, in the African language Kimbundu, denotes an undead. Even lay people vaguely associate these beings with the voodoo of the Caribbean, whereby the focus here is on the association with damage magic using needle dolls. The connection to voodoo is not wrong, only the horrific image of this religious culture that is widespread in Europe and the USA does not correspond to reality. The voodoo in Haiti, but also in the southeastern United States or on the coast of Venezuela, merges African religions, Catholicism and Indian beliefs.

“The story of an old person is his last act of procreation. Just as his material body once produced new bodies, his mind (...) is now busy creating a new mind. People carry out initiation rites, by means of which the metamorphosis from the physical to the spiritual person is carried out, the development of a deep inner sense in the bodies (…), the children of their flesh. ”Maya Dere.

The voodoo in Haiti

Voodoo means cognition and knowledge, vau means "look inside" and dou "into the unknown." By its very nature, it is revelation given by the initiates in a mystical city near Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, can be experienced. Orthodox followers of the voodoo, on the other hand, suspect this city in Nigeria: the voodoo is a religion of the sun, its archetypes come from the sun.

The Haitian culture of voodoo is still distorted in Europe and the USA by the ideology of the former slave owners. To this day, dictators, material misery, irrational ecstasy and ever-changing corrupt governments are associated with Haiti. Voodoo is considered the "western" perspective as the epitome of black magic, damage spells, zombies and the extermination of people by spitting dolls with needles. It ignores the fact that there is hardly a population in the world that has freed itself from its dictatorships as confidently and militantly as the Haitian. The dark magical practices are gruesome marginal phenomena of voodoo and are fought as harmful by the Haitian population. The culture of the Haitian population is equated in the Euro-American perception with the actions of the enemies of the Haitian lower classes.

This reversal of cultural reality can be explained by the real threat posed by the liberation culture of black slaves to French Catholic slave owners in the 18th century. The voodoo enabled closed resistance structures of the blacks in the colony and thus their own collective identity, which was not accessible to the French men's class. The rituals of voodoo manifested a system that was not transparent to French plantation owners, in which the slaves built up their own organization, which was abstracted from the prevailing forms of social security. Even today, the voodoo is the religion of the Haitian lower classes, while the (black and colored) middle and upper classes are almost exclusively committed to Roman Catholicism.

In addition, the Indian and African religions were very similar in their basic statements. The relationship between man and nature was made possible by a metaphysical change of shape (animal people), both had ancestral cults and worshiped the elements, both were alien to the absolute separation of people and other Christian life. In both, the metaphysical powers were summoned externally as part of rituals and not internally through meditation. The West African religions were based on stability and continuity, on passivity, the Caribbean Indian religions on vitality and aggressiveness, on war, on activity and action. The latter met the needs of the black slaves in Haiti. Indians and blacks, whose cultures mingled in the mountains of Haiti, were united in their hatred of the white colonialists. The magical element of Indian shamanism gave the opportunity to act in the material world. Biblical and Catholic traditions flowed into Haitian voodoo, including the naming of spiritual beings with the names of Christian saints and elements of Christian masses. The French slave owners could not ban Catholic services.

Caribbean culture and African origins

Haiti is located in the western third of the second largest island in the Greater Antilles. Haiti was a French colony until 1804. The economic system was based on the exploitation of African slaves, who made up almost 90% of the population than in any other Latin American country. After independence, agriculture was nationalized. The military and heads of state revised this agricultural reform as early as the first decades of the 19th century. After 1883, their feudal regime increasingly came into crisis, combined with rebellions by the landless peasants. From 1915 to 1934, the United States occupied the country and initiated modernization, but the rule of the military oligarchy remained unchanged. Today, this oligarchy, which consists mainly of mulattos, faces around 90% farmers, landless and marginalized - there is no noteworthy middle class. 80% of the population are black, 15-20% mulatto, a few thousand are white Americans. The French plantation owners were almost completely chased out of the country after the revolution of 1804, but the upper class still speaks French, pays attention to the "French" way of life and culture and sees itself in the role of the "black whites" described by Julius Nyere (and mulattos) that continue to maintain the colonial structure after independence for their benefit. Apart from a brief period from December 1990 to October 1991, when liberation theologian Jean Bertrand Aristide was elected President, Haiti's rulers, self-proclaimed "emperors", were megalomaniac dictators and tyrants like the Duvaliers, who brought people to social bankruptcy Bleed country.

The fragmentation of the individual tribes in Haiti was carried out by the French slave owners in order to prevent mass social organization of the slaves and thus resistance. Every culture, every religion arises from diverse influences that religions regularly deny when they claim a claim to absolute truth. The voodoo, vaudou is a particularly syncretic culture, made up of African, European and Caribbean elements, which in turn were heterogeneous. The black slaves in pre-revolutionary Haiti came from different West African ethnic groups and states, from Yoruba, Dahomey, Loango, Aschanti and Mandingo. They all had their own beliefs, names for their places, their dances, rituals, their language. The fragmentation of the individual tribes in Haiti was carried out by the French slave owners in order to prevent mass social organization of the slaves and thus resistance. However, certain beliefs were generally understandable in West Africa. These included ancestral worship, ritualized dance, drums and the obsession of believers with gods. From the diversity of the individual tribal deities, their main gods were integrated into an overall religion.

While the deities in West Africa had a defensive and preserving character, the beliefs of the Caribbean became harder, more active and more warlike due to the broken and torn social structures. In addition to animistic elements of West African cultures, Catholic and Indian symbolic worlds flowed into this religious reference system. However, the core of the Vaudou rites and beliefs remained African. The physical body of every human being is inspired by his esprit or gros bon, the great good angel who corresponds to the soul, the spirit or the psyche. This soul can attain various levels of an archetype towards a spirit being (a Loas / Iwas).


According to Maya Dere, these loas can displace the gros bon ange of a human individual and control their body. The obsession, phenomenologically taken out of context as an exotic and eerie fascination in the West, is part of everyday cultural reality and is integrated into religious rituals. All a person does during this obsession is the actions of the loas who have taken over the body. This process is neither perceived negatively or positively, but is a normal part of the Vaudou. That is why it is not to be equated with the obsession with demons or devils in Catholic thought, because there is no pure good or bad in Vaudou, but energies that are in the best case in balance.

The servant causes this obsession consciously and intentionally. The loas are less abstract deities in the sense of Christianity or Islam, but rather the embodiment of forces such as love, anger, grief or hate with which the individual becomes one in the phase of obsession. Loa comes from the French lois, law, and refers to the laws of creation. The Gros bon ange is an expression of the invisible characteristics of a person, his life principle, his "character". Unlike Christianity or Islam, the practice of Hougan, the priest, is not organized centrally or hierarchically - there is no clergy and no dogma. In addition to the religious ritual, the duties of a Hougan in Haiti also include medicine. The Hougan sees himself not as a believer, but as a knower who conveys connections, not the chronicle, but the inner meaning of things, according to Maya Dere. He is close to the shaman who travels to the spirit world himself. She concludes: "In retrospect, he draws up the plan for the spirit's adventure journey - and we call this journey the myth."

A religion of slave liberation

The Vaudou enabled the slaves to be united, which made their victorious revolt in 1791 and the independence of Black Haiti from France in 1804 possible - the slave uprising began with a Vaudou ceremony on August 14, 1979.

The vaudou is divided into two directions, the African tradition-based rada cult, which is mainly practiced in the cities, and the petro cult, which is more aggressive and violent. The Indian heritage becomes clearer in the petro cult. This is not malicious, but the answer to the deportation to slavery and the whip of the slave owner. The anger in the petro-cult also shows its replacement function for the lost African homeland, the longing for revenge and the hope for a better life as an aggressive replacement for the stolen history. The Vaudou enabled the slaves to be united, which made their victorious revolt in 1791 and the independence of Black Haiti from France in 1804 possible - the slave uprising began with a Vaudou ceremony on August 14, 1979.

One of the drives of the revolution was the belief that the souls of the fallen would return to Africa. Here there is an overlap of the Vaudou with the Rastafarian culture. The African elements spread across America; In addition to Haiti, varieties are trained in Cuba with the Santeria and in Brazil in the Candomblé.

The Petro cult of Vaudou represented both the organizational structure and the moral strength of the Haitian revolution. A loa, the Marinette-Bois-Cheche, is considered the invisible force that fired the cannons at the French. Dessalines, the revolutionary general and later emperor of Haiti, is said to have been obsessed with an ogoun, a spirit being. It was not the mystical element of the Vaudou, but its secular basis - a unified striving for liberation from rule - that was decisive for Haiti becoming the second colony after the United States. The revolution in Haiti was the first and so far the only slave uprising that led to the political independence of a state. Since the pursuit of liberation has never been fulfilled, the Vaudou is still very much alive today as a culture of the Haitian lower classes.

Syncretism and life practice

The West African religions in the second half of the 18th century in Haiti combined with Indian beliefs. Escaped black slaves mingled in the woods and mountains with Indians who had retreated to these areas for fear of the white man's massacres. The basic statements of the Indian and African religions were very similar. The relationship between man and nature was made possible by a metaphysical change of shape (animal people), both had ancestor cults and worshiped the elements. Both were able to come into direct contact with spirit beings, even in shamanism the boundary between spirit and human is permeable. In both, the metaphysical powers were expressed externally as part of rituals in the world and not internally through meditation. Both religious systems did not claim to be absolute, were undogmatic and tempted to merge. The Indian element, whose symbolic worlds were anchored in the Caribbean, made the Vaudou an American culture, whose revolutionary and violent moment allowed a different dynamic to be unleashed than the religions of the West African monarchies. The shamanism of the Caribbean Indian societies, however, offered the decentralized structure necessary for the liberation in comparison to the centralist kingships of West Africa. The Indian gods lived on in the spirits of the petrocult. Maya Dere writes that the Indians practically carried out their revenge on the white man by means of the blacks.

Even today, the “Vive la liberte” song of the revolution next to the bath in Coca-Cola is part of the Vaudou ceremonies. Biblical and Catholic traditions also flowed into the Haitian Vaudou, including the naming of spiritual beings with the names of Christian saints and elements of Christian masses. The French slave owners could not ban Catholic services.

Vaudou as a culture of liberation is by no means hierarchical in one's own spiritual society. Loah hierarchies are based on the image of earthly society around priests, symbolized emperors and empresses, who were replaced by presidents, generals, ministers, senators etc. in the dictatorial periods. The extent to which a recognition of secular hierarchies can be seen or a kind of “spiritual theater” takes place can hardly be explained from European terms. However, as an earthly judge, the hougan exercises enormous power even in worldly matters.

Needle dolls and walking dead

Black magic, for example hurting or killing a person by spiking a doll with needles or creating zombies to walk the dead, is one of the greatest crimes in voodoo. It is by no means a common practice for followers of this religion, but what the voodooists are most afraid of. The principle of voodoo means averting harm to the population and preventing exploitation. The Bokors, the black magicians in Haiti were not only the white slave owners before the revolution, but also the black dictators and mass murderers, whose reign of terror continues to tear through Haiti's postcolonial history to this day. The butchers Duvalier, Papa and Baby Doc, deliberately followed the tradition of the Bokors and the voodoo figures associated with death. The henchmen of the Duvalier's secret police were referred to in Haiti as tontons macoute, as "uncle man-eater" and regarded as black magicians. The anti-communist Francois Duvalier, who was brought to power by the USA in 1957, oriented himself to Hitler and identified himself with the deity of "Baron Samedi", the lord of the cemeteries. Baby Doc later had his father's mausoleum guarded around the clock by one of the “man-eaters”.

Zombies and psychological destruction

According to belief, a Bokor can put a curse on people, after which it falls into a death-like state. When he wakes up from this state, he has lost his human intelligence and has become a willless tool of the black magician. This condition can also be triggered by a magic powder that the wizard rubs on the victim's skin.

And here the magic belief mingles with a scientifically conceivable background. Because the Bokor administers to the "dead" when he wakes up, an agent that contains, for example, atropine and destroys the victim's consciousness. Physical violence or psychological pressure to make the awakened compliant is also a common method. These beings are created to do hard labor on the plantations. The physical method consists in the administration of poisons, by means of which a person is brought into a catatonic state and, for the general public, is buried and secretly brought back from the grave. Since the mental functions remain destroyed even after awakening from the physical rigidity, these "soulless people" serve the poisoner as physically active but willless work slaves. The black magician known as Bocor is therefore an exploiter, a slave owner. The zombie is a mentally destroyed person. This notion of zombies is not necessarily mystical, but very rational and due to the persecution of a crime that has deep roots in the suffering of a population made up of the descendants of slaves. Vaudou has a very secular element. Since the Haitian social structure is still organized in a feudal-clique-capitalist manner and the dependency ratio of 90% of the population hardly differs from that of the slaves, the fear of the Haitian lower classes of the creators of zombies is very understandable. It is also understandable that the military, rulers and tyrants of the upper class looked for ways and means to create “living dead”. Historically savvy Anne Rice settled a witch dynasty as a French slave owner in Haiti in "Witches' Hour" - a remarkable departure from racist stereotypes in which the voodoo danger comes from the blacks.

A secular core is easy to see. Every slave owner society, every terrorist system tries to train its slaves from brainwashing and violence to willlessness using such methods. It is known from the Stalin era that dissenters were destroyed by the administration of poisons to brain centers, and we know from every psychiatry that patients can be immobilized using neuroleptics. In Haiti there are documented cases of people who appeared in their villages many years after their disappearance - as psychologically debilitated. It turned out that they had worked on plantations for years and that they still had some remnant of their consciousness pulling them into their home. Zombies are said to move slowly in Haiti and only croak instead of articulated language. You should not react when addressed. Her eyes are strangely rigid. All of this also characterizes mental illnesses. Severe alcoholics can get into the state of irreversible delirium tremens, in which they are no longer able to perform complex mental activities. And people who are dependent on metaamphetamines, the so-called crystal ice, are very similar to the creatures of Romero films - their teeth and hair fall out, they are no longer capable of reasoning, biologically alive, psychologically and intellectually dead. They decay alive within a few years. One theory suggests that the method of poisoning zombies came from West Africa to the Caribbean. Originally it was said to have been criminals who were punished by administering poisons.

Spiritual apparent death

Spiritual practitioners, but also sick people can get into a kind of apparent death. The shaman's trance, the obsession of the voodoo fan is based on such conditions, reinforced by opium, deadly cherry, henbane or toadstool. Henbane can lead to rigidity in which the unconscious is alive. Shamans consider their spiritual journey into the world of ancestral spirits to be death. Her body lies motionless while her other self travels the invisible dimension. It is very likely that a basic motif of the Snow White fairy tale is based on such rituals: the dose makes the poison. Snow White gets the apple from a witch, a shaman. Replacing the poison apple with fly agaric or opium poppy and if we limit sleep to one day, we recognize the little death of the shaman. For people who see the ghosts as reality, the question of whether such a small death should be viewed symbolically does not arise. Death is the entry into a dimension of life and not an absolute state, so the shaman can also die and come back because the border is fluid.

Now the voodoo is not a thoroughly natural science in the terms of European positivism, but a religious culture. And the voodoo also knows the astral zombie. In this way, a soul can be separated from the body and kept in a container. This gives the wizard power over the body of the dead. These are only visible to the Bokor. And the powders are not only poisons that could affect the brain, but are also said to consist of graveyard earth and crushed dead bones. The Bokors are said to practice dark magic. The Bokor can also put the clothes of the victim of his damage spell on a corpse, which will bewitched by this. A belief in such damage spells can have the worst psychological consequences; Evidence shows that people who believe in the effects of curses can die from curses. In voodoo, a person can also sell relatives' souls to a bokor. He receives benefits such as wealth or health from the black magician. The relatives' souls must then serve the Bokor as zombies. The Bokor can also soak up the soul of a newly deceased.

"We recognize death itself (...) by the fact that it is not life," says Maya Dere. And further: "When we look at a corpse, we realize that it is a dead person because we know what it means to be alive." Zombie, or what a zombie in voodoo is, can be According to Astrid Reuter, only explain within the initiation rituals. The Gwo Bonanj, the great good angel, merges ritually with the Iwa met te, with his spirit being. Everyone is close to a spirit, an Iwa (Loa). He was the first to take possession of them and appears regularly. The power animal in shamanism has a similar meaning, only the shaman is not possessed by this spirit in animal form. Ideas of werewolves and other shapeshifters can only be “academically” separated from the obsession in the Vaudou.

Similar to shamanic cultures and unlike the separation of monotheism between this world and the beyond, initiation is considered death and rebirth, and physical death is also a mental state in which the personality of man enters the world of the spirits. Death does not automatically end this connection, but the personality must be ritually directed into the spirit world. The great good angel goes straight to God; the Ti Bonanj, the "ti bon ange" cleanses itself first in the spirit world. A year and a day after death, he is ritually led into the ancestral world and this energy can become a loa, which in turn arise from this energy. If this ritual is disrupted, a bokor can turn the Ti bin ange into a zombie. Maya Dere explains: “Dying is the removal of a figure from the form in which it has transferred all elements of its special composition. If the form (…) is destroyed by this separation process, the body dies. However, the figure in which this form was poured is immaterial and therefore immortal. She is a personality who is invisible but real, who has a name and who is known by this name. ”The disembodied beings do not correspond to the soulless undead of the horror film, but remind of ghosts. They have lost their bodies, not their souls, are enslaved souls that are held captive.

The Gwo Bonanj is also not a soul in the Christian sense, it is more similar to the concept of the psyche, i.e. the basic psychological structure, the character of a person. Obsession, too, cannot be seen as a man entering from the outside, because in initiation he has merged with the Loa. The concept of C.G, Jung, the mental archetype comes close to the Loas.

The opposite is the case with the soulless bodies, which are used as slaves intellectually dead by Bokors. The Gwo Bonanj has already freed himself from the body in the grave; only the body is enlivened without personality and individuality. These inwardly empty dead are submissive and willless due to their soullessness. Their croaking sounds correspond to those of Gede, the spirit of the dead. The separation of the unity of mind and body is the most horrific thing about zombification in voodoo: “The physical substance and the mind of man (...) are eternally interdependent: the material body on the divinity that works in it and the divine power of the material body from which it originated, ”says Maya Dere.

Losing control and the fear of the West

Positivist explanations of religious ideas are usually to be enjoyed with caution. Like someone who believes in vampires, does not believe in them only because he finds living-looking corpses, the voodouists do not believe in zombies either because plantation owners mentally enslave debiles or because poisonous mixers produce puffer fish and aga toads. The connection is still there because of a peculiarity of the voodoo. The Haitians in the poor house of Latin America are forced to deal pragmatically with their myths because of their struggle for survival. The voodoo is less mystical speculation or theological debate; the loas are a way of life and not a dogma, just as the role of an actor or the novel character of a writer is not a being from a diffuse hereafter, but an imago in this world. People do not believe in ghosts in an abstract way, but rather integrate them directly into everyday life, comparable here to the polytheistic cultures in which the gods represented a way of acting, here also comparable to the shamanism of hunters and gatherers, which is always natural World is bound.

Maya Dere emphasizes that the entirety of the cultural form prevents the rituals of voodoo from being torn apart in order to catalog the individual pieces: "Everyone serves the Loas in their own way", perhaps comparable to an artist whose creative process is different not explained by the biochemical substance of the color he uses. In order to classify the ritual and the practice of Vaudou, it is not only and not even first the academic anthropologist and certainly not the Christian theologian that has to be asked, but the theater scientist, the dance teacher, the sculptor, the film director and the screenwriter.

The voodoo followers serve the loas and expect something in return; Transcendence hardly plays a role in everyday life. That is why the physically tangible perception of zombies, namely as willless work slaves, is linked to the way of life with the loas. Zombies and damage spells are also the epitome of the fear image voodoo in the West because obsession itself questions the European myth of being able to control itself. This expression of the unconscious was the epitome of the power of the devil in Christianity, primitive and wild in the dualistic thinking template of the supposedly church-critical ideology of the bourgeoisie. Die Ekstase des Anderen spiegelt das eigene Verdrängte, das Ausgegrenzte des vermeintlich Zivilisierten. So erörtert Maya Dere mit dem Blick der Künstlerin: „Da ein Mensch nur die Geister anziehen kann, die seinem Charakter entsprechen, gewinnt man bei einem Besessenen nicht nur den Einblick in das Wesen desjenigen Archetyps, der sich manifestiert hat, sondern auch in den Charakter der Person, von welcher er Besitz ergriffen hat – jenseits aller Masken, die wir für so wichtig halten. Je stärker sich jemand an diesen Schutzschild klammert, desto größer ist seine Angst, ihn fallen zu lassen. Die Haitianer sind daran gewöhnt; dementsprechend fürchten sie sich auch nicht davor.“ Die Methoden, sich vor solchen erschaffenen Zombies zu schützen, ähneln denen vor Untoten weltweit. Mal bewachen die Hinterbliebenen das Grab, mal drücken sie dem Leichnam ein Messer in die Hand, damit es den Bokor abwehren kann. Auch ein schwerer Grabstein kann den Schwarzmagier fernhalten. Salz essen kann einen Zombie von seinem Fluch befreien.

Die heutige Bedeutung des Vaudou in Haiti

Bertrand Aristide erkannte 2003 den Vaudou offiziell als Religion an. Die Haitianer sind aufgrund ihrer erbärmlichen Lebensbedingungen (die Arbeitslosigkeit betrug laut GEO 12/2000 80%, die Lebenserwartung liegt bei 38 Jahren, das Pro-Kopf-Einkommen beträgt 270 US-$ jährlich) notwendigerweise sehr realistische Menschen. Der Lebensstandard in Haiti ist vergleichbar mit dem in den ärmsten Ländern Schwarzafrikas. Auf makabre Art hat sich so die Rückkehr nach Afrika erfüllt. Als Test für die Wirksamkeit metaphysischer Kräfte dienen pragmatische Erfolgserlebnisse. So ist die Symbolwelt des Vaudou auf Beobachtungen und fassbaren Tatsachen aufgebaut. Glauben ist eng an Denken, an folgerichtige Geschehnisse geknüpft. Die Loas werden nicht verehrt, sondern mit ihnen wird verhandelt, wenn das Ergebnis negativ ausfällt, liegt das an Meinungsverschiedenheiten mit den Loas oder daran, den eigenen Standpunkt nicht überzeugend genug vertreten zu haben.

In diesem in Bruchstücke zersplitterten Land, in dem ähnlich wie in Liberia, dem anderen Hoffnungsträger der afrikanischen Sklaven, der Versuch der Selbstbestimmung nach einer gelungenen Revolution scheiterte, ist der Gesang der hougans oft die einzige Form verbindlicher sozialer Organisation. Während die Intellektuellen, Schriftsteller, Maler und Musiker im Chaos der 80er Jahre des 20. Jahrhunderts nach dem Sturz von Baby Doc das Land Richtung USA verließen und auch Aristide sich primär am Machterhalt interessiert zeigte, pflügen die Bauern im verlassenen Land weiterhin ihre kümmerlichen Felder mit Holzstöcken, sehen die herrschenden Familien Haiti nach wie vor als Plündergut an, existiert eine politische Infrastruktur nicht auch nur ansatzweise. Im Unterschied zur Periode der französischen Sklaverei gibt es heute für eine Sozialrevolte kaum Angriffsflächen und auch keine Alternativvorstellungen. Auch wenn die Reichen heute aus dem Land gejagt würden, gäbe es in dem ausgehungerten Land kaum mehr etwas zu holen. So bleibt nur noch der Vaudou, der das irdische Elend der meisten Haitianer nicht erlösen, aber zumindest Hoffnung auf dessen Überwindung geben kann.

Und, als ob Armut, Gewalt und der tägliche Kampf um das materielle Überleben zur Hoffnungslosigkeit nicht reichen würden, demonstrierte die Natur, dass es noch schlimmer kommen konnte. Das Erdbeben machte das Chaos vollkommen. Westliche Hilfsorganisationen besetzten das Land, die Bereitschaft zu spenden, war groß – ein zweischneidiges scharfes Schwert. Denn hilflose Schwarze, „weinende Negerbabies“ im „Abendland“ paternalistische Gefühle auslösen: Der „gute Herr“ kümmert sich um seine Sklaven; eben damit legitimiert er seine Herrschaft. Es war so sicher wie das Amen in der Kirche, dass die christliche Rechte Profit aus der Katastrophe ziehen würde. Evangelikale in den USA erkannten im Erdbeben eine Strafe Gottes für die vaudouistischen Teufelsanbeter. Ähnlich, wie Islamisten ihre Anhänger durch Sozialfürsorge gewinnen, mobilisierten christliche Organisationen verschiedener Couleur nach Haiti, um den Erdbebenopfern zu helfen. Während die christliche Rechte das Erdbeben als Strafe Gottes für die „Teufelsanbetung“ ansieht, erkennt der vermeintlich aufgeklärte westliche Blick die Irrationalität des Vaudou als Blockade des gesellschaftlichen Neuanfangs.

Der Vaudou selbst bietet aber Möglichkeiten, die Katastrophe zu händeln. Da es keinen Klerus und keine totalitäre Kirchenhierarchie gibt, ist jeder Mensch handlungsfähig. Der Vaudouist muss nicht auf den Segen des Bischofs warten, um in Kontakt zu seinen Geistern zu treten. Die basisdemokratische Ausrichtung und dezentrale Interpretation der Rituale ermöglicht eigenständig und vor Ort zu handeln, was im Chaos nach dem Beben lebenswichtig war. Der Besessene tritt in Kontakt zu den Loas, die ihm in der Situation entsprechen, die Heilungen und schöpferischen Ausdrucksformen sind der Welt zugewandt, Handlungsoptionen.

Der Einfluss christlicher Fundamentalisten wuchs durch die Katastrophe; wieder einmal zeigte sich aber, dass der Vaudou durch den paternalistischen Übergriff nicht tot zu kriegen ist. Die historische Erfahrung von Sklaverei, Revolutionen und Terrorherrschaft ließ die Haitianer im Angesicht des Zusammenbruchs nicht unvorbereitet. Der Vaudou, nicht als religiöses Dogma, sondern als Überlebenskonzept, grenzt die unangenehmen Seiten der Existenz nicht aus, sondern betrachtet sie als Aspekte des kosmischen Dramas von Leben und Tod. Auch Vaudou-Anhänger erkannten im Erdbeben eine spirituelle Dimension, die von ihrem sozialen Befreiungskampf nicht zu trennen ist. Die Naturkatastrophe ist in dieser Lesart Ausdruck eines kosmischen Ungleichgewichts. Das Erdbeben zerstörte zentrale Symbole der Unterdrückung wie die großen Kathedrale von Port-au-Prince, den Präsidentenpalast und das UN-Hauptquartier und bestätigte die Vaudouisten, die Armen und die Ausgebeuteten darin, dass die soziale Ungerechtigkeit und die Ausbeutung der Natur das spirituelle Gleichgewicht beschädigt hatten. Diese spirituelle Wahrnehmung lässt die Serviteurs nicht verzweifeln: Denn in der Zerstörung manifestiert sich bereits die neue Schöpfung.

Die Massengräber für die hunderttausenden von Erdbebenopfer stellen aus Sicht der Vaudouisten jedoch ein großes Problem dar. Da sie die entscheidenden Todesrituale nicht durchliefen, sind unzählige Seelen gefährdet, zu Zombies zu werden. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)
Also read:
Walking dead in cultural history

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